10 essential cookbooks

I’m not sure whether I agree with these, but an interesting list for sure.
What do you think?
Too California oriented?

1 Like

Hmmm, I have to wonder makes some of these books that “every home cook needs”. I have 7 of the 10 and wouldn’t recommend some of them to most home cooks.

I love Alice Waters and her recipes are great but her cookbooks are (IMHO) not easily browsed for most home cooks. I only pull her books out now when I’m really in the mood for her style of cooking and have the time and energy to browse them to find one that seems to fit the bill.

Mastering the art of French Cooking is a classic and definitely will always have its place in history, but I think home cooking has moved on from there and I never crack that book anymore unless I’m doing something specifically Julia.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is a great book, I recommend it to many people. Who can’t always use a new vegetable side-dish or figure out how to make vegetarian main dishes for company when needed.

Essentials of of Classic Italian Cooking still holds up and seems relevant. I recommend that one a lot.

But The Food of Morocco, I don’t have this one - seems awfully niche for a book every home cook needs. It may be a great book (again don’t have it) but “every home cook needs”?

The challenge with these types of lists is - what are we calling a home cook? Hardcore foodie? Cook Book enthusiast? Never cooks the same thing twice? Always having people over? Cooks for family every night? Just starting out and looking to become a more serious home cook?

7 Likes

Excellent observations. When I hit the cookbook shelf it’s maddening and time consuming to tackle but lists of every kind sound sponsored.

Beyong the benefit of an experienced cooks guidance, I have found food magazines more suited to my reference preference and cookbooks without photos (for a first timer) means mystery cooking and I am a def a visual learner when it comes to cooking.

I have two from that list of my 100s of cookbooks. Don’t think I’d have any interest to add the other eight to my collection.

Agreed. What’s a must-have cookbook depends on your experience and what you want to do.

That said, I agree that Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Italian Cooking” is an impeccable foundation for home cooks who want to cook in that style. Including me. I was schooled by that book. I still dip into it even though I have had it for many years.

2 Likes

The list should be named The 10 favorites cookbooks of this bookshop owner.

Every home cook is different and has difference preference, As a cookbook shop owner, she should know better than that. I found the list rather restricted. If Indian, Moroccan and Vietnamese cuisine are included, why there are no Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Spanish or Mexican…

I guess it is more a piece to get people talking about the store in social media.

I have only 1 book, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen, which I like and use quite often. Curious about the vegetarian book, I saw 1 recommendation above.

4 Likes

The list seems to be curated as if a library was being formed. Many of the books represent a “first” in their genre for US audiences. Each book is significant beyond just recipes.

Should they be in your collection? Much depends on why you collect. Most of these will provide an excellent foundation of technique, history and ingredients in the area of focus. Just looking for a specific technique or quick meals then there may be other books that are more practical for that goal.

4 Likes

Meh. I have a number of books by a few of the authors of some of these books (but except for Hazan and Child’s books, they all predate the specific books on this list). But more than anything else, as a list, it strikes me as being a basically Internet-era list, possibly “iconic” to a segment of today’s home cooks who got “into” hobby cooking over the past 10-15 years, but a quirky list even as far as that goes. Offhand, I can’t even think of a way to characterize the “segment” it might be especially representative for, though I do note - without being “offended” by the fact or wanting to turn the observation into a discussion (much less any sort of “debate”) about sexism in the “Foodie Industry” - that there are no books written by men on the list. (Though just for the record, I will say I have no problem with someone wanting to promote women cookbook authors, food writers, etc in particular, just not without acknowledging that’s what they’re doing.)

On the whole I see it as much more of a representative sampling of this store owner’s personal favorites among the past two decade’s trendiest cookbooks than anything else…

2 Likes

I’ve owned a couple of those but must not have considered them essential because I no longer have them, and I’ve gone through others page by page while sitting in bookstores and decided not to buy them for one reason or another, and I’ve checked others out of the library for weeks and decided not to purchase. I don’t own any of the books on that list, but I do own books by authors on the list.

I don’t think there are any bad cookbooks on the list, but after cooking for close to 40 years, I’ve decided there really aren’t any essential cookbooks that every home cook should own. My main problem with that list which others on the thread have touched on, is that it is too narrow. If there’s such a thing as essential cookbooks, they’ll be different books for different people. I wouldn’t consider that list to be essential for anyone other than the person who made the list.

1 Like

I learned how to cook reading Julia Child & Fannie Farmers books. I have my original Mastering The Art of French Cooking (both vols); Vol I has a burnt spiral on the back from the time I put it on the hot electric burner. I’m on my 3rd Fannie farmer. Beyond that I have shelves & boxes of cookbooks. But all of these are just a recipe here & a recipe there.

1 Like

The key thing here is probably that this is from Food52, the site that every March brings us the ridiculous and annoying Piglet contest, in which ten celebrities (cooks and non-cooks) test drive two cookbooks published that year, choose the one they like best, and the winner goes onto the next round March Madness style. I don’t remember if we talked about it here but over at CH it always inspires a lot of furious commentary. Last year BTW the final pick-the-winner judge was Lena Dunham, who doesn’t use cookbooks because she doesn’t cook. Just to give you an idea of the seriousness with which Food52 does NOT take the whole thing. Or I guess I should say they DO take it seriously in that as clickbait goes it’s pretty hard to resist - hatereading is still reading.

The thing about a list, is that it gives everybody something to disagree with!

3 Likes

I can not even look at the damned thing any more. It is just whacked how they choose judges and pair books together so willy nilly. Such a shame since it could be done in a way that was truly useful.

I can barely look at the CH thread about it - it’s like experiencing a train wreck by osmosis.

2 Likes

I like your remarks, Thimes. About the Food of Morocco, I also don’t have that book. But I can’t think about great cookbook writers without this author, Paula Wolfert, springing to mind. She generally writes niche books, but they’re awesome. Her “Cooking of Southwest France” is one of the most important cookbooks in my learning experience.

Still, the idea of 10 must-have books has to be relative to circumstances. Like you cannot say 10 must-have kitchen tools without knowing which cuisines are in play.

1 Like

0 for 10.

1 Like

Here is an amazing authentic cookbook in Italian or English. Best recipes and can be read within 2hrs.

2 Likes

Thanks Barca! I read a few paragraphs in the introduction of the book in the kindle version, interested to make the fresh pasta recipe, Fettuccine with triple butter.

2 Likes

It is also available on PDF and Kindle …
The PDF is 10 € -
I know Maurizio very well.
He is a wonderful gentleman and a dear friend of both my dear and me.

He is authoring a new book now as well.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold