Part of the
Having a fresh herb or two nearby opens up greener, wider range of tastes for the table. What recipe couldn't do better with an aromatic bouquet of minced fresh herbs and a decorative sprig of green, especially in the grey winter months? Seeing the little bits of edible shoots snug in their containers of dirt indoors can take the edge off of the snow shoveling chore. A little inspiration strikes to thumb through the shelf of cookbooks in my kitchen to see what stew and soup recipes have yet to be explored, modified, and served up in a belly-warming, sniffle-warding meal.
Cookbooks are important to me. I remember reading an article in some magazine that was a book review of a cookbook, or rather it was a review of reading cookbooks. What a strange activity, I thought, to have a cookbook on the nightstand and to read it as if it were a novel, maybe even with a glass of wine. But it dawned on me at that moment that it's the act of imagining the tastes, and smells, and textures boiling, broiling, baking together that is part of the creative act of cooking. Sure there's a beautiful, experimental ad hoc-ism that evolves new recipes as you have the wooden spoon in hand, but when you're driving with a particular confluence of flavors in mind, baking your 6th (or 16th!) apple pie that day, you're shooting for a repeatable recipe. Cookbooks bring the abstracted experiments of others to me for contemplation, for dissection, for cooking.
This weekend I happened to come across a treasure of a find.
Joanne Hendricks, Cookbooks.... and books about food and wine, etc.
antiquarian out of print unusual
488 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
One of Joanne's friends suggests that she needs to start a blog, but she hasn't gotten around to it yet. Of course Google's still got a pointer on her bookselling activities. Her cozy street-level living-room-with-books-eMac-and-(and if I recall correctly)-cash-register is packed to the ceiling with ancient cookbooks and their kin. There were some Marcella Hazan oldies carefully wrapped in librarian-pleasing cellophane book jackets, and in the Asian/Chinese/Japanese section, a few bi-lingual ones where the main purpose was to impart Western preparation techniques to foreigners. Much to my surprise, there was even a Pearl S. Buck penned occupant on Asian cookery.
Alas, in the few minutes we were there, my ongoing search for a comprehensive Asian noodle dough recipe book still seemed fruitless. I'll be back on a solo reconnoiter mission to do a more thorough search. I'll bring my camera.
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