A plea for bolder tables of contents.
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.
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.
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!