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The Cookbook that Never Was.

Posted on 22nd Mar, 2011 by Mariana Abdala
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You know more about cookbooks than you think you do. The Joy of Cooking evokes ‘joy’ among newlywed twenty-somethings. ‘Mastering’ is a relative term in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook is not passing judgement on your potentially less than ‘better’ home. As in all literary genres, the quintessential books are those timeless editions that end up on the kitchen shelves of every individual who has, at some point in time, pondered the idea of cooking. These are the classics of the culinary world according to the James Beard Foundation, the books that have reinvented French meals home, that bring to light the principles of potlucks, and that ultimately end get passed down from one generation to the next because, like Ulysses and Moby Dick, people will think so much more highly of you if they scan your bookshelf and see those titles.

In spite of the time worn tips, tricks, and sage advice classic cookbooks offer, the cooking population inevitably looks forward to that next outstanding cookbook that will truly inspire just as we await the next Great American Novel. And, if you consider the sheer amount of fabulous cookbook titles that are already taken by other various stories and novels, it’s no wonder a single cookbook seldom ends up as a New York Times Best Seller or on your child’s summer reading list. Face it, some of those reverend titles that belong to Victorian novels and Modernist tragedies were really meant to be cookbook titles. Here are just a few.


1. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

The all too familiar dilemma that torments and engulfs the lives of every Weight Watchers dieter is deconstructed and resolved in this cookbook on portion control and calorie counting.

2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Martha Stewart Living of its time, this cookbook will take you through all the stages involved in putting on the most well-dressed and decorated feast of your life, three times a day, seven days a week. Helpful tips and conversion notes included in the exhaustive appendix.

3. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Giada De Laurentiis will never top this best seller. The ultimate guide in showcasing the fruits of our forefathers’ labors, these are the recipes that our ancestors of the Mediterranean wish they had when they had more olives and oranges than they knew what to do with. Blasted olives!

4. Life of Pi by Yan Martell

Move over cupcakes. Chef Patel knows a thing or two about exotic savory meat pies, seafood fare, and throwing brunches on boats. In this full-color, beautifully illustrated cookbook, he shares his wonderful pie creations with step-by-step instructions.

5. In My Mother’s House by Margaret McCullen

If you feel like you can’t cook for your husband, entertain crowds, or make snacks for little armies of children like your mother so elegantly did, then this is the cookbook for you. Take a trip down memory lane and reminisce in all the great hot dishes and no-bake pies of your childhood.

More infamous book titles tomorrow. Check back for #6 – 10 in the list.
Photos © 2011 KATHYA ETHINGTON

Food, we love you.

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Comments (2)

  1. 22nd Mar 2011

    nice work.. Great story-telling. cheers! wb

  2. 22nd Mar 2011
    by Lil'Sis

    Nice one Mariana! My favorite is Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac. This tale of woe and treachery transcends time and space. How many of us have been duped by a significant other who, during the “courtship” phase, has perfected one or two impressive dishes (perhaps torn from the pages of GQ, Cosmo, Esquire etc. ) intended to win-over our hearts through our stomachs? Well – this cannot go on forever – one cannot live on perfectly crusted crème brûlée alone! Learn how to cope… and how to cook delicious meals for yourself after learning that your domestic gastronomic world is but a house of cards. Come on now!

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