A few nights ago at dinner, a friend asked me which 5 of my over 100 cookbooks were my ‘go to’ cookbooks. I immediately rattled off two, but stumbled trying to come up with 3 more. “ I have to put some more thought into it,” I said. Well, I finally whittled it down to 5, but it felt a lot like Sophie’s Choice doing so. These are cookbooks that, well, I couldn’t cook without, or I would save if my home were burning down, or I turn to a lot. I use all these cookbooks for different reasons. They have helped to form me as a cook.
From the beginning,
While French cooking may be one of my favorites, the cooking of the south and southwest of France are my favorites within that region. Olney, who is no longer with us, is one of the best sources for French cooking. Lulu is full of earthy recipes which exemplify merger of Gallic food love with Mediterranean ingredients. I cook out of this book more than many others.
Last year I had the opportunity to cook with Diana Kennedy at her ranchito in Zitácuaro, Michoacán, two hours west of Mexico City. Diana kept saying to us “It’s in the book! You must read teh book!” whenever we’d ask stupid questions. While she has 6 cookbooks I never knew which one she was referring to. However, for me, this book (along with The Essential Cuisines of Mexico) is my ‘go to’ book for Diana’s kind of traditional Mexican food. Since then, but even before, this was my ‘go to’ Mexican cookbook. For me, it sets the foundation and gives the background of what Mexican food is all about. I return to this book quite a lot.
3. Arabesque. Claudia Roden.
Middle Eastern food is comfort to me and Claudia knows it better than anyone else. I love this book because it includes both Morocco and Turkey. Heart, heart.
The daube recipe speaks for itself.
I like to read cookbooks and this is one of the best cookbooks for reading because, well, it’s well-written and interesting. I have done whole dinner parties on more than one occasion, just out of this book.