about bliss

Sunday, September 19, 2010

daily bliss: cookbooks

My students are reading Michael Perry's memoir Truck: A Love Story this semester. I chose Perry because he's a reasonably local author with an amazing range of vocabulary, emotion, and experience. Many of my students are, ah, infrequent readers, and I'm trying to show them that reading can be...fun.

Last week we read the second chapter, in which Perry waxes poetic about leafing through glossy seed catalogs during the cruel winter months. He also describes his collection of thirteen cookbooks in some detail.

Many students were not impressed by the detail.

They thought it was...weird.

Me? I get it.

My cookbook collection skews to the pastry arts, with a smattering of vegetarian cookbooks, and a few all-purpose tomes: Gourmet Cookbook, Bon Appetit Cookbook, a vintage Betty Crocker Cookbook like the one my mom used when I was growing up, and G's contribution: Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

On Thursday, my copy of Dorie Greenspan's latest book, Around My French Table, arrived. I settled in with a cup of coffee, and slowly turned the pages, marveling at the delicious recipes, gorgeous photos, and delightful stories.

I use cookbooks mostly as guides and inspiration, and my typical approach when cooking a new dish is to find several different recipes for it, and then create my own version, using loose measurements and relying on my senses to properly prepare the dish. Most of the time, this strategy results in tasty meals.

Cookbooks are comfort, possibility, offering up food as more than mere sustenance; rather, they show us food as craft, as companion, as love.

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