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Books about cooking


Multiwagon
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Other than the three written by Michael Ruhlman, which I have read and loved, what other books are out there that are about cooking, but not cookbooks?

16 years old and in love with cooking, you'll hear about me in the future. ;)

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Other than the three written by Michael Ruhlman, which I have read and loved, what other books are out there that are about cooking, but not cookbooks?

I love Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.

I also love La Varenne Pratique. My Mom gave it to me when I was around your age and I still pick it up frequently.

There are also many biographies you can check out, some about modern chefs, some about the classics such as Jacques Pepin and the latest written by Julia Child and her Nephew which was released shortly after her death, My Life in France. I enjoyed these both immensely.

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I am about 1/2 way thru Brillat Savarin's "The Physiology Of Taste", Translated by M. F. K. Fisher. Very heavy reading, but interesting for a book that was first published in 1825.

Bud

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Yeah, there's lots of science and cookery books out there now. A decade ago, not so much. Herve This (lots more in French than English), Harold McGee (a must in any serious cook's library in my opinion), Shirley Corriher (although hers are cookbooks as well), Robert? Wolke, Hillman ? and Russ Parsons. Perhaps others.

There are a few books about how to put flavour combinations together -so they venture into the theoretical - but most are cookbooks at the end of the day.

Of course, there are lots of books about the resto biz etc, and some memoirs that might fit what you're looking for. (Julia, Jaques Pepin, and many, many more).

There's lots of books about specific (categories of) ingredients. and wider ranging tomes such as Larousse Gastronomique and the Oxford Companion, and others.

So yeah, there's lots.

Maybe try searching food reference or similar topics in amazon or the websites for the larger online cookbook stores. there's a vast selection of this stuff. the Ruhlman books are superb - but I'm not sure what to suggest just because there's so much stuff that might fit what you're looking for. I can't remember who puts it out, but there's an annual anthology titled something along the lines of "best food writing of 200x". It might be woth checking out.

Best of luck with your search.

Geoff Ruby

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I am about 1/2 way thru Brillat Savarin's "The Physiology Of Taste", Translated by M. F. K. Fisher.  Very heavy  reading ...

Yes, Brillat mixes different kinds of material but is quite a classic. Anecdotes of the curate's omelet, and the stop at the inn, are unforgettable. Here are some other books at least 30 years old (oldest first):

Fredrick Accum. A Treatise on Adulterations of Food. Philadelphia: Abraham Small, 1820. Mallinckrodt facsimile edition 1966.

John Doran. Table Traits (two volumes). Boston: Francis A. Niccolls &Co., 1855. (Sort of an English Brillat, originally published 18 years later, 1854, in England.)

Alexandre Dumas (the prolific adventure writer ). Dictionary of Cuisine, 1873. English edition by Louis Colman, Simon and Scuster, 1958.

Belle Lowe. Experimental Cookery. Third edition, Wiley, 1943. A food-science text with further references.

Betty Wason. Cooks, Gluttons, and Gourmets: A History of Cookery. Doubleday, 1962.

John and Karen Hess. The Taste of America, Viking, 1977, ISBN 0670693766. Reissued 1999, ISBN 0252068750. May be the chief critical work on late 20th-century US food culture (and some of its spokespeople); also unusually concentrated historical and bibliographical content in a single source.

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i'm a big fan of mid-century food writing. I'd include the works of Idwal Jones, the Browns, marcel rouff, and of course the immortal wechsberg. i have to confess that though i like parts of Physiology, on the whole i find it tough slogging--to much erudition on fanciful science.

I like Max' list, particularly the Belle Lowe. She is way under-appreciated. this was when food science was really about understanding cooking (as opposed to formulating isolated elements). the hess book is one that everyone ought to read, too, and then put away. they have some good points, but on the whole they are so hysterical that they wind up sounding like cranks. it is good, though, to be reminded that no one is above criticism (as if that was a problem today with the internet!).

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There's some Marcel Rouff stuff in earlier threads, for example a description of it Here, and others if you search the site for that (unusual) name.

I perceive Rouff as less about cooking than some of these, it's fictional food-related parables. Touched on in one or more threads in the separate Cookbooks forum (though I've gotta admit, some of these topics and books overlap between that forum and this one, which doesn't make for easy choice). Interested people reading either forum should also look at the other, in my opinion.

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(though I've gotta admit, some of these topics and books overlap between that forum and this one, which doesn't make for easy choice).  Interested people reading either forum should also look at the other, in my opinion.

Yes, the books overlap between the forums. "Auberge" even does have recipes in it but somehow the focal point is not exactly the recipes.

I hesitated to answer Multiwagon's question at first, for what we each individually consider to be "non-cookbook cookbooks" could vary so widely. That's wonderful, really, for books should not be cut from cookie cutters, should they . . .

My sense was that Multiwagon's interest was in cooking as future vocation - that there was an urge there to hear the songs of the professional kitchen. To see the brigade, to smell the aromas, to hear the noises. A longing to be immersed in the milieu.

My own interest is not in the milieu, having lived the milieu quite long enough. :biggrin: My interest is in the ineffable about cookery - the parts that science can not pin down. That which goes further than the stomach, that which is somewhat mystic even. :smile:

From reading you in bits and pieces in the past, Max, I would guess that your interest is an expansive one, based on the "literary" as core focus, though I can't quite guess at what the time frame of interest is. Whatever the time frame, the encyclopedic knowledge you offer is impressive. Of the books you listed, this one:

Betty Wason. Cooks, Gluttons, and Gourmets: A History of Cookery. Doubleday, 1962.
is my favorite. I remember reading it when I was just about the same age as Multiwagon, and loving it then. Whereas I attemped Brillat-Savarin at the same age and sort of got very mired and very tired. :laugh:

I hope there will be more additions to this thread as memories of readings flit into people's minds. What wonderful books these are, about "cooking" but not about "recipes".

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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There also were related threads in recent months with slightly different brief: the one raising distinction of "food writers" vs. writers on food-related subjects; the "Cookbooks as Literature" thread (in the Food Literature forum, note).

Thanks Carrot Top for the kind words. I'm not specifically interested in the literature so much as in food and wine (which leads to reading some literature). At the same age Multiwagon's postings mention, I discovered I was very interested in food (that was a while ago, and not in the US, and led among other things to a memorable case of food poisoning). Seeking good info and sources has entailed finding the occasional book. (Actually to your separate "Books that age gracefully" thread, I could mention a few, but hope at least to have time to list there some favorite cookbooks meeting the call.)

Separately to Russ Parsons, I'll engage a little about the Hesses because of my impression (if I may so say) you are another who reads the literature, as well as holding opinions on it. People in the past have sometimes summed up the Hesses' book via elements they disliked: indignant tone or whatever. That I believe is uneclectic, characterizing the book from one facet, tossing the baby with the bathwater. Seldom do the same people express what they thought about its history of US cookbook evolution, its correction of historical misconceptions (by quoting 17th through 19th-century popular food writings, the Hesses demonstrate, not just assert, that some US cooking "innovations" of late 20th-c. were actually rediscovery of principles common in the past). Like other serious polemical writing, the book concentrates vast data for its case; the data make it a useful sourcebook. Karen Hess, remember, is also the food historian instrumental in some old classics being reissued in inexpensive modern facsimile, and illuminating contributions to US cooking from native and African cultures. I've also sent people to The Taste of America just for its long annotated historical bibliography, fairly unique among US food books of its (or this) era.

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I can't remember who puts it out, but there's an annual anthology titled something along the lines of "best food writing of 200x". It might be woth checking out.

To Geoff's point, I believe he is referring to this series, edited by Holly Hughes and published by Marlowe.

These are an excellent survey course (if you will) in food writing - they run the gamut, from resto stuff, home cooking, and the more ephemeral bits and pieces. They're a great way to read, say, a local Denver writer that you might not otherwise hear about. I highly recommend them, especially if you're looking for a path to larger works.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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