Aug 2, 2023·edited Aug 2, 2023Liked by Stained Page News

I completely agree with this article and sentiment! Being a cookbook collector (hoarder), I have often fallen for the trap of a highly-marketed new cookbook that has the same recipes as the next highly-marketed new cookbook. I've taken to always looking at the index of cookbooks on Eat Your Books first so that I can guarantee it's worth the money and non-existent space in my dining room. The books that have excited me the most lately are Mezcla, More Fish More Veg, and Italian American.

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Right, I don’t need your roast chicken recipe! I’m wondering how much this topic dovetails with the one about cookbook design. I don’t own a lot of cookbooks with the author on the cover. And in flipping through them, there are books by authors I very much admire that I don’t end up picking up, because the books don’t speak to me the way their recipes in other venues do. They often feel less creative to me, and I think you’re getting at why. Interesting! And OMG the restaurant trend, yes, good grief, can we please be done with the 10-year “trend” of roasted Brussels sprouts!

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I might be a little bit of a contrarian here...yes, I would love bolder, more interesting recipe lists. I would. But..the recipes that take off and that people love are often these twists on familiar dishes.

For example, Susan Spungen wrote a beautiful book of vegetable recipes in Veg Forward. The dish I'm seeing people make the most is the Carbonara with Sungold Tomatoes. It's lovely but also simple/familiar with a twist.

The author of the piece mentions that Allison Roman changed her life by teaching her to put anchovies in tomato sauce. But it's not like Allison Roman was not the first person to put anchovies in tomato sauce.

The other versions of tomato sauce did not change your life but maybe they did that for someone else?

It's funny, when I teach cooking classes, sometimes I'll mention a little technique that I think is so simple and basic. One you assume everyone knows by now. And you'll see someone's eyes open up, like, "Oh! A revelation!"

For me, the biggest "rule" when writing a cookbook is to know your audience. If your audience is coming to you for twists on basics, well, that's likely what your book will be.

I do agree that if we want books filled with different types of recipes, we need to buy them and support them.

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I love this meta conversation!

The way I see it is that different cookbooks serve different functions. Some people want to cook familiar "home bistro" food their whole lives. Other people are adventurers. Some people just want to understand braising a little better and some people have just gone Keto or vegan or bought an instapot or have a kid that will only eat ground beef. Some people really do want that tenth book on baking or vegetables. Some people are getting their first apartment and it's nice to have roasted chicken and broccolini recipes in there.

Publishing is always going to cling to the road more travelled (not just in cookbooks). But the great thing about the present moment is that cookbooks are so popular and so many are being published (both on small and bigger scales) that there is room for all kinds.

When I browse the cooking section at my local bookstore, I am gratefully flabbergasted at the panoply. (Are we living in the Golden Age of Cookbooks? I think we might be!)

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