There are cook books, and there are cooking books. I’m in the mood for cooking books.
The difference? Cook Books are focused on recipes, page after page, and if you’re lucky there are color pictures of the completed dish so you know what it’s supposed to look like and whether your own creation compares favorably.
Cooking books elevate food preparation and consumption to an art. They are mainly narrative, where the author waxes rhapsodical about foods they have known and loved. They artistically describe the lushness of ripe fruit, the mellow smoothness of good cheese, the sharp tang of spice on the tongue. They invite the reader to sit at the table and sup, to partake of the delicious bounty and savor every morsel.
I trace my newfound interest in cooking books directly to a recent read of A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway’s classic memoir of Paris in the 1920’s, a book where food becomes symbolic of the expat lifestyle. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, imbibing the sweet life in their favorite cafe while they wrote furiously and carried on fervent discussions about literature and the world. Cafe life seems so romantic and exciting and intellectually stimulating. Somehow, no matter how much time I spend in Starbucks or Panera, my laptop open on the table before me, I can’t quite capture the stimulating atmosphere Steinbeck conveys in this book.
Now tell me, Sunday Saloners, who else should I be feasting upon?