Monday, February 24, 2014

Page to Plate

Nearly every recipe I cook comes from the internet. Generally, I'm trying to cook around what we already have on hand so it's easy to hop on the computer, type in what I've got, and find a recipe that uses those ingredients. This is how I do 80 - 90% of my cooking.

Why then, you might ask, are my bookshelves absolutely overflowing with cookbooks?

I wish I had an answer for you (Michael also wishes I had an answer for that question!). I love to go to used book sales/stores and when I see cookbooks, all reason just flies out the window. I'm especially fond of older cookbooks. Most modern cookbooks can be found at the library, so I generally try to resist. But there is something irresistible to me about old cookbooks. I suppose part of it is that my loves for history and food find their intersection in these books. When I hold an old cookbook in my hands, when I leaf through it's yellowed pages, I feel connected to the past.

There's also the allure of "undiscovered" recipes. In an age where it seems like every recipe has already been made, photographed, and blogged to death, it's exciting to sit down with an old book and find a recipe that I haven't seen splashed all over the internet. I can be confident that it will be delicious, not because five hundred people have pinned it on Pinterest, but because the splattered page and creased corner tell me it was someone's family favorite.

To me, old cookbooks are more interesting than any novel. I've spent many an evening curled up in bed with a stack of cookbooks. The narrative may not be spelled out for you, but it's there. These books tell stories all their own. And though I've spent many hours browsing the books in my collection, I will admit I've spent far too little time cooking from them. When I cook from a recipe online, I've usually seen the beautiful pictures, read the rave reviews, and I can feel confident that it's going to turn out great. When it comes to retro recipes, a more adventurous spirit is required. And while I may be able to stomach an atrocious outcome, it's not something I want to subject Michael to. Until now.

If I want Michael to keep looking the other way as my cookbook collection slowly takes over our apartment, I have to at least justify the calamity by putting those books to good use. So, in 2014 I am really going to make an effort to find the gems in these books and take them from page to plate. Wish me luck!

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