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GOOD READS November 2021



BY DIANE PARFITT, November 2021

Cookbooks can teach a novice how to cook or a more seasoned chef how to venture into new culinary delights. Like many women, I’ve collected enough cookbooks over the years to fill a couple of my bookshelves, and I really do love finding just the right recipe for a dinner party or adding something new to my Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Recently, collecting cookbooks has become a “thing.” There are now many articles on cookbooks as “collectibles” – everything from “How Cookbooks are Like Novels,” to “8 Reasons Old Cookbooks are Important.” Cookbooks are appealing because they can take us on a journey to faraway places with photographs and descriptions of food and people in different countries. So, look at your old cookbooks with a new perspective and be on the lookout for other “gems” at yard sales or at your favorite used bookstore.

Also, new cookbooks are coming out all the time – here are some new treasures to add to your cooking collection.

1. “A History of Food In 100 Recipes” by William Sitwell

We all love to eat, and most people have a favorite ingredient or dish. But how many of us know where our much-loved recipes come from, who invented them and how they were originally cooked? In “A History of Food In 100 Recipes,” culinary expert and BBC television personality William Sitwell explores the fascinating history of cuisine from the first cookbook to the first cupcake, from the invention of the sandwich to the rise of “food television.”

2. “The Tucci Cookbook” by Stanley Tucci

Well-known actor Stanley Tucci takes us on a guided food tour of Italy in his popular TV series “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.” Everyone needs a great Italian cookbook, and this one gives us wine pairings with some of the most delicious, homemade Italian dishes. Your mouth will begin watering the minute you see the gorgeous photography and read about some of the Tucci family memories.

3. “Fruit Cake: Recipes for the Curious Baker” by Jason Schreiber

No, this is not the hard cake filled with equally dry fruit and nuts that became the punch line of jokes. Schreiber’s recipes will help you deliver so many delicious cake varieties, each usually featuring just one fruit. If the stunning cover of this delightful cake cookbook doesn’t grab you, the 75 delicious recipes will get you in the kitchen baking your next cake. No more jokes about fruit cakes, just delicious treats everyone will love. Who can resist trying Blood Orange Bee-Sting Cake?

4. “Food Network Magazine: The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook: 150+ Recipes for Young Chefs”

Get the kids in the kitchen with more than 150 kid-friendly recipes that will entice them to start learning to cook – then watch them enjoy the products of their cooking lessons! This colorful, playful book will make it easy for the kids to become the new cooks in the house. And who doesn’t need some help in the kitchen?

5. “Break An Egg! The Broadway Cookbook Insight Editions” by Tara Theoharis

When Lin-Manuel Miranda doffs a tall, white chef’s hat while in his Hamilton costume for the cover of this cookbook, you know you are in for a treat. Recipes inspired by some of Broadway’s most famous musicals will warm up your appetite – and you can sing your favorite show tunes while you cook! Start with Eggrolls for Mr. Goldstone (“Gypsy”) topped with Too Darn Hot Sauce (“Kiss Me, Kate”). Along with that, have a toast with The Wizard and Ice (“Wicked”) and then dine on Mama’s Well-Peppered Ragu (“Chicago”). For dessert you can enjoy Officer Krupcakes (“West Side Story”)!

6. “Dinner In French: My Recipes by Way of France” by Melissa Clark

Julia Child introduced millions of novice cooks to the delights of French cuisine. Today we can continue this with these approachable, delicious French-inspired recipes by this New York Times food editor. She has compiled many of her best-loved French recipes for us to cook at home for the family or a special dinner party.

7. “The Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer

What bride didn’t receive this encyclopedia of cooking as a shower or wedding present? First published in 1931, and most recently with a new edition in 2019, “The Joy of Cooking” is the quintessential cookbook. It is my go-to book for any new thing I want to cook for the first time. My favorite recipe from was for bouillabaisse, a traditional French soup. The ingredients included lobster and fish from my husband’s annual scuba diving trip to California. This recipe from Rombauer’s beloved cookbook turned out perfect every time. It never failed me for that or the other delicious dishes I tried.

Whether you want to add some new cookbooks to your collection or give a very special gift to someone, these new cookbooks will certainly fit the bill. However, don’t forget the used cookbooks treasured by generations before you. Old or new, cookbooks can help us master new recipes and simultaneously travel the world through the cuisine of other countries.

Diane Parfitt is a former Pediatric Nurse and Assistant Professor of Nursing Education and currently owns a bookstore. She can be reached at citycentergallerybook@gmail.com