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Cookbooks with no recipes


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I've been thinking about cookbooks recently, and was wondering if people have come across "cookbooks" without recipies. Well they don't have to have zero recipies, but I'm looking for books where the authors talk about the creative process they use in cooking. Of course, in the modern age internet, places like egullet contain huge amounts of information about how people cook, which is what I'd like to read about.

Particularly, I would love to find any older books written in this style. So often cookbooks list recipies, but don't give you any insight into the heart and mind of the person cooking.

I'm tired of glossy pictures of beautiful presentations, I want descriptions of the how the food should taste. Perhaps some autobiographical cook books which mix experience and recipies...

I've recently read "A Wandering Feast" by Yale Strom, which is similar to what I'd like to read, but it's more about his journey, and he is not the chef, so you don't get to see through the eyes of the creator.

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I've been thinking about cookbooks recently, and was wondering if people have come across "cookbooks" without recipies. Well they don't have to have zero recipies, but I'm looking for books where the authors talk about the creative process they use in cooking. Of course, in the modern age internet, places like egullet contain huge amounts of information about how people cook, which is what I'd like to read about.

Particularly, I would love to find any older books written in this style. So often cookbooks list recipies, but don't give you any insight into the heart and mind of the person cooking.

I'm tired of glossy pictures of beautiful presentations, I want descriptions of the how the food should taste. Perhaps some autobiographical cook books which mix experience and recipies...

I've recently read "A Wandering Feast" by Yale Strom, which is similar to what I'd like to read, but it's more about his journey, and he is not the chef, so you don't get to see through the eyes of the creator.

Laurie Colwin's books fit the bill. They are anthologies of her articles in "Gourmet".

They're called Home Cooking" and "More Home Cooking" (I think).

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You might also like to read John Thorne.

John Thorne Q&A here on eGullet

Some of his books are out of print but you might be able to locate them. He also publishes a newsletter. Here is the link to John Thorne's Website "Outlaw Cook" .

On the site is this link that you can follow to get additional information about some of his publications:

To purchase books or newsletters

jayne

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The Michael Ruhlman/Eric Ripert Return to Cooking does contain recipes, but the heart of the book is Ripert's creative process as he moves from place to place and season to season.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Another book you might like is "Chez Panisse Vegetables" by Alice Waters.

Many of the recipes are what she calls "snapshots" in which looser guidelines are given for a recipe approach or preparaton. Some of the recipes are more standard as well.

For each vegetable, the section starts out with a description of the different varieties of the vegetables available and how they differ in taste or texture. She give guidelines on how the different types of a given vegetable might be used and how they differ when they are younger or older. So the driver for the recipes and "snapshots" is very ingredient-based and focuses the different characteristics of a given family of vegetables.

I've received lots of inspiration for new dishes or variations for a given vegetable by just rereading the opening section and then browsing over the recipes that follow.

edited to add: After seeing chowguy's post, I'll mention that there are no photos of the dishes in this book; just some beautiful colored linocuts of the different vegetables.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I also like "Chez Panis Vegetables" and really like Elizabeth Schneiders' "Uncommom Fruits and Vegetables a Common Sense Guide". I love Roy Andre de Groots' "Feasts for All Seaosns". It's packed with information and not a picture in the book. I also rediscovered a gift I got several years ago, It's called "Seductions of Rice" by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid.

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The cookbook that I am writing for my daughter does not contain much in the way of actual recipes. If you've ever learned to make something at the side of a home cook who loves to talk, you've been exposed to my instructing style.

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Heat is definitely in this vein but it does get a bit verbose about travels and philosophies at times.

Also Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries is an interesting read and more about the process than the recipes, although it is full of them..

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  • 1 year later...

Actually I love reading "about" the industry and the lives of people involved. Whether it's "the fourth star" about the kitchen's staff working for Daneil Boloud, or any number of Michael Ruhlman's book about chefs. Check out amazon and do a search for this guy, it will find quite a few.

One of my favorites is;

Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch

I am always looking for more to read, so I'll keep upto date on this forum for advice.

Cheers

Gregory

I've been thinking about cookbooks recently, and was wondering if people have come across "cookbooks" without recipies. Well they don't have to have zero recipies, but I'm looking for books where the authors talk about the creative process they use in cooking. Of course, in the modern age internet, places like egullet contain huge amounts of information about how people cook, which is what I'd like to read about.

Particularly, I would love to find any older books written in this style. So often cookbooks list recipies, but don't give you any insight into the heart and mind of the person cooking.

I'm tired of glossy pictures of beautiful presentations, I want descriptions of the how the food should taste. Perhaps some autobiographical cook books which mix experience and recipies...

I've recently read "A Wandering Feast" by Yale Strom, which is similar to what I'd like to read, but it's more about his journey, and he is not the chef, so you don't get to see through the eyes of the creator.

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