Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cookbook Reading

Twice, very recently, I was reminded of the fact that cookbooks are, indeed, meant to be read - savored even. The week before Christmas my sister called from a used bookstore. She had found an autobiography of Katharine Hepburn and, knowing I was a fan of the great Kate, wanted to know if she could pick it up for me. "Already have it, but thanks," I replied. "It's a good book. Why don't you get it for yourself?" "Nope," she said, "I only read cookbooks." A few days later, may daughter (also named Katharine) asked for The Joy Of Cooking as a Christmas present. When I checked with her a couple of days after the big event, she was having a splendid time "reading" Joy. As it turns out, our memories of good food and our memories of a good read fill our psyche in similar ways. They both nourish and sustain us as well as fill our imaginations with possibilities. One does not simply cook from books such as Feast or How To Eat, for instance - both by Nigella Lawson. These are cookbooks one relishes. As an example, Lawson provides some gastronomic remedies for the dreaded hangover. But, she doesn't just provide you with a formula for relief, she eases you gently into the kitchen on those mornings after you find you have been "soured on cheap wine," as she so adroitly puts it. Who can feel bad after reading that?

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