Best Chance finds.


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Best Chance finds.

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Editado: Abr 11, 2007, 6:04 am

What have you picked up on a whim, found in the used book sale, or inherited, but now come to love, full with useful suggestions?

On a whim: Food: the definitive guide A chance discovery in a cheap bookshop. Its a practical dictionary of different basic and rare foods - where they come from and what to use them in. Surprisingly comprehensive and useful.

But this post is inspired by my hard work this weekend. I've been clearing out the attic, and partly buried under the collapsed chimney was a copy of The Cookery year (1976 ed). In surprisingly good condition. This is the exact edition that my parents have used for decades. Their copy is much loved and much battered, so that this one, despite the attic, looks almost pristine in comparison. I'm sure I will also get much joy out of it.

What are your best finds?

edit for gross grammatical errors

Abr 10, 2007, 5:47 pm

I am just finishing A Cook's Tour: In search of the Perfect Meal by Anthony Bourdain. I picked it up of the cheap book table at my local indy bookstore. While not technically a cookbook it does discuss various local food offerings and practices. Bourdain is ofcourse irreverent and often crude but I do like his personal style of writing.
For the price, it was a fun find.

Abr 11, 2007, 1:34 am

Desserts Pasteries and Fancy Cakes by GL Wennberg who was the former Head Patissier at the Hotel D'Angleterre, Copenhagen. It was $1 at a local shop.

Abr 12, 2007, 2:08 am

So... I was in Barcelona in 1989, staying with a guy I'd met there. Cool story actually, but probably not appropriate for this forum. :)

Anyway - as I'm leaving to go back to Lisboa (which was home that year) he gave me a copy of Craig Claiborne's fairly lousy autobiography A Feast Made For Laughter. I don't even much like Claiborne, but this book gives self-indulgence a bad name.

But there was one very cool bit about the book: Claiborne has a section in the middle where he lists off the books he considered essential for any cookbook library. I've pretty much gotten them all and I have to say this for the guy: he was right. 98% of the books he recommended were WONDERFUL. I've seen a few lists like it, but this really was pretty comprehensive for its time. Maybe I should copy it out in a post. Maybe I'll have time someday. :)

Abr 12, 2007, 11:41 am

Mcglothlen - I am intrigued by that list of essential cookbooks. If you do find time to share it, I would love that.

My best chance find was in a secondhand bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, where I turned up a hardback copy of From an Italian Garden: traditional fruit and vegetable recipes from Italy by Judith Barratt. I had never heard of it and I've certainly not found it in the cookbook sections of conventional bookshops, but it has provided endless pleasure and some great recipes over the years.

Abr 12, 2007, 5:21 pm

A find that made me whoop and everyone else in the antique store jump, was Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, by Elena Zelayeta. Written in the 50's, it really isn't up to date as far as produce availability, yet is still a very good basic of Mexican cookery. I grew up on it, my mom cooked from it a lot. I had searched for one for years without success (before my internet days), then to find it in the very back of a huge store crammed full of stuff, buried in a few books which had nothing to do with cooking. It felt like a gift from above.

Abr 18, 2007, 4:21 pm

I once stumbled upon Paul Poiret's (yes, the dress designer) 107 recettes ou curiosités culinaires recueillies, in the original paper binding, in a used bookstore in downstate Illinois, for a relative pittance. It was nearing my sister's birthday, and as she is a chef and cookbook collector, it was the perfect find. I made a wrapper for it from a really beautiful handmade paper (Cave Paper's Layered Indigo Day).

Abr 18, 2007, 4:56 pm

Flavors of Jerusalem and A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru were both serendipitous finds at a used bookstore in Northern California. I also found an amazing handbound Italian cookbook in a corrugated paper cover featuring the cuisine of Milan. It became a gift to a dear friend who had interned there with a famous artist.

Abr 18, 2007, 5:04 pm

#7: were the recipes any good? the dresses certainly were gorgeous.

Abr 18, 2007, 5:09 pm

> 9

I don't know! I didn't try any, just wrapped it up and sent in on to my sis.

Abr 29, 2007, 3:00 am

4> No library that I have access to has Craig Claiborne's A feast made for laughter. Amazon only lists one copy. I hope you do have time to type out the list for us!!! I am curious...

Abr 29, 2007, 9:24 am

Well, I have it, and the list covers 30 pages! (Not as lengthy as you might think, as it's more than a list. He gives a short review of each.)

Here's his "general" list:

Joy of Cooking
New York Times Cookbook
The Gourmet Cookbook
The James Beard Cookbook
The Complete Asian Cookbook
The New James Beard
Paula Peck's Art of Good Cooking
Better than Store-bought
The Chez Panisse Menu Cook Book

And his "American" list:

James Beard's American Cookery
The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
American Food: The Gastronomic Story
The American Heritage Cookbook
The West Coast Cook Book
International Chili Society Official Chili Cookbook
and several Junior League/church cookbooks:
The Cotton Country Collection
Charleston Receipts
River Road Recipes
Bayou Cuisine
The Memphis Cook Book

I'll have to list the rest later, as I have to go out.

But may I say that I am impressed that every single one of these books, including the community cookbooks, is catalogued here?

Editado: Abr 30, 2007, 3:40 pm

You shamed me into typing out more from the Claiborne list. Not all of these are doing the touchstone thing even though most are in my library. *shrug*

Caribbean & Latin America

The Flavors of the Caribbean and Latin America by Alex D. Hawkes

The Chinese Cookbook
Pleasures of Chinese Cooking
The Great Tastes of Chinese Cooking by Jean Yueh
Florence Lin's Chinese Regional Cookbook
The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook

Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume two
Simca's Cuisine
The Art of Charcuterie
A French Chef Cooks at Home

Greek Cooking for the Gods
Greek Cooking A Mediterranean Feast
Cooking and Baking the Greek Way
Greek Islands Cooking

The Cuisine of Hungary

The Indonesian Kitchen

An Invitation to Indian Cooking
Classic Indian Cooking
Cooking of the Maharajas

Foods of the World Series - Time-Life
Elizabeth David Classics
The Four Seasons, 250 original recipes from one of the world's great restaurants by Tom Margittai and Paul Kovi
Cooking for One is Fun
Cooking on your own by Henry Lewis Creel
a Treasury of Great Recipes
The Dumpling Cookbook
The Saucier's Apprentice
Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing


Classic Italian Cook book
More Classic Italian Cooking
The Fine Art of Italian Cooking
Italian Regional Cooking
The Complete Book of Pasta
Italian Family Cooking
Italian Food

Note from 4/30 edit: There... where the touchstones wouldn't work I've added author names. And I fixed Marcella and a few others. Also, where they would "touchstone", I "touchstoned" a few Authors names. Paul Kovi's Transylvanian cuisine looks like fun. :)

Abr 29, 2007, 8:35 pm

12 and 13> Lilith, you and McGloth rock!!! Thanks so much. This was a lot of work!!! I don't have these except for maybe a couple. I'm not sure which to get first! So many choices... :D

Abr 30, 2007, 1:54 am

There's more. Lots more. And I realize that the ones that didn't touchstone should probably have authors' names so you stand a chance of finding them. :)

Abr 30, 2007, 4:45 am

I'll give you some authors for the Italian cookbooks:

Marcella Hazan for the classic Italian Cookbook and
More Classic Italian Cooking;Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni
and Italian Food by Elizabeth David.

I don't know any of the others, but I have cooked from these books for years and I swear by them. They are the BEST.

Editado: Abr 30, 2007, 1:24 pm

There. I listed authors for books where touchstones didn't work. Note to almigwin: your touchstone for The Classic Italian Cookbook doesn't work - it points to a different book. I had the exact same experience. The system doesn't even give you a choice in the matter, so I gave it up.

Okay... So we're not even halfway through the list yet. I'll probably get to the rest (or at least MORE) later today.

Maybe when one of us gets all of this typed we should just cut-and-paste it into an entirely new thread of its own?

Abr 30, 2007, 1:53 pm

Classic Italian cook book. There's the Hazan!

Abr 30, 2007, 1:53 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Editado: Abr 30, 2007, 7:49 pm

Claiborne cookbook list, part three:

Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art
At Home with Japanese Cooking

The Cuisines of Mexico

Middle East
The Complete Middle East Cookbook

Couscous and other good food from Morocco

The Great Scandinavian Cook Book by Karin Fredrikson
The Swedish Princesses Cook Book

The Foods and Wines of Spain

The Art of Turkish Cooking orDelectable delights of Topkapi

The classic cuisine of Vietnam

Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East vegetarian cooking ; illustrated by Susan Gaber

The art of fine bakingBeard on bread
The complete book of breads
The complete book of pastry, sweet and savory

Canning, Drying and Preserving
The Ball blue book of canning and preserving
The pleasures of preserving and pickling
The green thumb preserving guide

French Cheese

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts
Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies
Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts
The Joy of Cheesecake

Foraging and books on the out-of-doors
Stalking the Wild Asparagus
Stalking the Blue-eyed Scallop

Alexis Lichine's Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits
Frank Schoonmaker's Encyclopedia of Wine
The New York Times Book of Wine
The Joys of Wine

Dictionnaire de l'Academie des Gastronomes
Larousse Gastronomique
La Technique: the fundamental techniques of cooking
La methode : an illustrated guide to the fundamental techniques of cooking
Cooking Techniques: How to Do Anything a Recipe Tells You to Do
Chinese technique : an illustrated guide to the fundamental techniques of Chinese cooking
The Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery
The food of France
Food by Waverley Root: An Authoritative and Visual History and Dictionary of the Foods of the World
Food of the Western World: an Encyclopedia of Food from North America and Europe
Bouquet de France an epicurean tour of the French provinces
The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery
La Repertoire de la Cuisine
Composition of foods : raw, processed, prepared
The book of household management - Claiborne says , rightly, that if you can get the facsimile of the first edition you should.
Le guide culinaire = The complete guide to the art of modern cookery : the first complete translation into English
The Escoffier cook book : a guide to the fine art of cookery
Claiborne closes his reference section by saying that a truly complete library of food reference would not be complete without the 1910 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica which, of course, is the BEST edition. He was such a cow, Claiborne.

Abr 30, 2007, 7:59 pm

Claiborne's List, Part Four.

This is just a tiny last bit. I did it in a separate message because the last one started behaving strangely.

I should also mention that both Lilith and I forgot the little asterisks that Claiborne used to identify the books that he considered absolutely essential. I'm not sure that they do much. He did put an asterisk by the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, after all.


The physiology of taste, or, Meditations on transcendental gastronomy
The Art of Eating
The Glorious Oyster
Table Topics by Julian Street
The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook
Food in History
The Taste of Country Cooking
Culture and Cuisine

Editado: Abr 30, 2007, 8:10 pm

So. IS this all worth trying to post into a separate thread? Or is this good enough? :)

By the way: one book that ISN'T asterisked as being "most essential" by Claiborne is the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. Mistake. Also, most experts on Escoffier agree that, in distant hindsight, the most interesting of his books was Ma Cuisine - a book neglected by Claiborne.

Also a point - this list was produced in the middle part of 1982. Lots of cook books since then. Some of them would be on my list of essentials.

NONE of that negates the fact that this is a HECKUVA list. Seriously, I built on this list and worked out from it. Very useful to ME, anyway.

Maio 1, 2007, 12:18 am

This is wonderful! It will do for me (I don't want to speak for anyone else). Many thanks!

Editado: Maio 1, 2007, 5:33 am

22-What would be on your list of essentials from the books written since 1982?

I think his list is absolutely on the money, except for the french part which emphasized the complex and difficult haute cuisine that Julia Child wrote about.

I would add Simple French Food by Richard Olney,
Mark Bittman How to Cook everything and his The Best Recipes in the World;
The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp, Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain ,
the Silver Palate Cookbook and the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso
and book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden.

For Japanese, Italian, Moroccan, Hungarian and Indian, I think Craig's choices were perfect.

I would add The German Cookbook for German Cooking by Mimi Sheraton
and Please to the Table for Russian food.

Editado: Maio 2, 2007, 1:27 am

24> re: books I'd add to Claiborne's list.

At least the five Culinaria books (Greece, Spain, Italy, France and Hungary) that I have.

I'd add at least one book regarding Brazilian cookery. I continue to be surprised by how little impact the regional cuisines of Brasil have made upon our culture. It is the fifth largest country in the world and its culinary traditions are deep and rich and old. Brazilian Cookery (long out of print) would be my choice.

I can't imagine having a baking library that wouldn't include most of the King Arthur Flour cookbooks.

The Cake Bible, The pie and pastry bible and Rose's Christmas Cookies - all by Rose Levy Beranbaum would also be on my list.

Clayton's wonderful bread books have been supplanted in the last 20 years by Peter Reinhart's books, such as The bread Baker's Apprentice and by Daniel Leader's amazing Bread Alone. But do NOT throw away any of Bernard Clayton's books. :)

In the American category, I'd have to include Sheila Lukins' great USA Cookbook.

In the French category, I don't understand his not including Fernand Point's Ma Gastronomie.

The field of Spanish cookbooks has exploded in the last few years. I would certainly include Penelope Casas' outstanding Tapas, the little dishes of Spain.

The Complete Book of Greek Cooking is a wonderful book.

I dunno. This is pretty impossible, isn't it? :) If Spanish cookbooks have exploded, what can be said has happened in the field of vegetarian cookery? Yikes. Well, certainly, Deborah Madison's insanely delicious Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has to be on it. And Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. And I don't know anybody who has more than, say, 20 cookbooks who doesn't have either Mollie Katzen or the Moosewood Collective on his/her shelves.

Indian Cookery was given a new bible in the The art of Indian vegetarian cooking : Lord Krishna's cuisine by Yamuna Devi.

Also I'd make room for every one of Barbara Kafka's books. Also the rest of Elizabeth David's and Diana Kennedy's books.

Editado: Maio 2, 2007, 1:28 am

By the way, there ARE a handful of books I'd take OFF Claiborne's list.

The NY Times Cookbook and the Chinese Cookbook (both instances of Claiborne putting himself on the list) are lackluster choices, in my opinion.

I like the Paula Peck books, but they are NOT particularly great. I think she was probably included because she's a nice lady and, possibly, as a favor to James Beard (she was a Beard acolyte).

Maio 2, 2007, 1:32 am

You know. Not to be contrary, but I'm not sure I'd agree that either of the Mastering the Art of French Cooking books are particularly complex or difficult. Quite often the work isn't even particularly "haute". She was sometimes slightly inauthentic (sez people other than me), but that's simply because she was a populist.

I agree about Simple French Food, though. That's a great book.

Mar 22, 2015, 4:26 am

I am surprised that Claudia Roden's book A Book of Middle Eastern Food was not mentioned, originally published in the late 60s. Having said that, I have not read Tess Mallos's oeuvre, so perhaps I'm being unfair. And I have never read any of Craig Clairborne's work, though he seems to have quite a reputation from what articles or books I have read.

I have yet to read Simple French Food.

Editado: Mar 22, 2015, 4:41 am

One of his books is falling apart on my shelf because his Sorrel recipes are the very best. (Probably because of the amount of cream in them.)

I would put anything by Roden on the list. The Book of Jewish Food near the top.

Mar 23, 2015, 3:29 pm

It is a list of great books but it is 32 years old. Is there anyone today with Clayborne's stature that could update it?

Editado: Maio 29, 2015, 6:44 pm

Best book found... A 1963 copy of the "Joy of Cooking" in good condition in a take for free bin