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Apr 14, 2001 01:49 PM

The Good Cook

  • p

The good cook was a series Published by Time Life in the late 70's early 80's, it was edited, and in the most part written by Richard Olney. I am trying to build a collection of all its volumes, not exactly a chore as purchasing cook books, especially second hand ones is a major pre-occupation in my life, not to say financial drain. However I cannot find a list of all the volumes in the series, which is off and on annoying the hell out of me. 1 believe there where 27 published over six years.

Does anyone have such a thing, or indeed own the set and be inclined to put me out of my misery by posting it here ?

Is anyone else engaged on this foolish errand ?
If you are, it may be of interest that nearly every Oxfam bookshop ( I live in London ) has copies. I also find that single copies are almost invariably Cold Starters.

Thanks in advance


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  1. Perhaps I should apologize for replying since I know nothing of these books (a pet peeve here--those that reply with opinion when fact will do). But you did pique my interest enough to search and find what these are about.

    I found an interesting essay by Alan Davidson, who was a consultant for "The Good Cook" series. He is discusing the history of Petite Propos Culinaire and Prospect Books. It seems that Olny's need for previously published works seems to have caused the origin of PPC. Oh, and Davidson says there were "30 or more volumes". Good reading.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Anne H.
      Christine DiBona


      Forgot to add:

      'Reflexions' is Richard Olney's autobiography, and he writes in this book about his trials and tribulations with the Time-Life people during the making of the 'Good Cook' series. Frustratingly, there's no bibliography or other appendix of his writings. He doesn't talk about working on any title that I didn't include in my list, but then, he really only writes about the particularly vexing episodes, so ....Alan Davidson listing 30 or more...maybe there *are* more books than I have on my list (this is actually a good thing, I love a hunt!) Or it might be a difference in the American and English editions...hmmmm, let us know what you find.


    2. c
      Christine DiBona


      I subscribed to the series when I was teenager! One book a month, for at least a couple of years. I filled in a few missing volumes over the years, from used book store - and even scored some oddities at Dean and Deluca when they had a couple of tables of the volumes, unearthed from some long ignored warehouse.

      I was fascinated by the world these books introduced. I'd started with classic Joy and Beard stuff, but they gave you recipes, and this set presented a whole philosophy. about technique and history, really made me TRY when I cooked. Seminal set me..

      Here's my list of what I have, and I think my set's complete:

      1) Eggs and Cheese
      2) Breads
      3) Hor d'Oeuvre
      4) Salads
      5) Soups
      6) Pasta
      7) Vegetables
      8) Dried Beans and Grains
      9) Snacks and Sandwiches
      10) Terrines, Pates and Galantines
      11) Shellfish
      12) Fish
      13) Poultry
      14) Lamb
      15) Pork
      16) Beef and Veal
      17) Variety Meats
      18) Wines
      19) Beverages
      20) Sauces
      21) Outdoor Cooking
      22) Cakes
      23) Pies and Pastries
      24) Classic Desserts
      25) Candy
      26) Fruits
      27) Cookies and Crackers
      28) Preserving

      and a little softcover bonus book, 'The Well-Equipped Kitchen'. Inside looks alot like the Milton Glaser book on kitchen equipment - very 70's.

      So I'd say you're looking for a total of 29 books - 28 hardcover, and 1 promo book for the complete set.

      On the other hand, I THINK my 'Foods of the World' set is complete, but does anyone have a list of all the titles, including the promo books?


      1. d
        David "Zeb" Cook

        My son likes these books so much that when he moved out, we tracked down the better part of a set for him as an apartment-warming present.

        The "College of Cookbook Knowledge" lists 28 vols. Follow the link below to their list.

        David "Zeb" Cook

        PS. It also lists the vols. for Food of the World, one I never collected.


        1 Reply
        1. re: David "Zeb" Cook

          When I was going to cooking school, way back when, the school had the Foods of the World series, which I spent many hours poring over. Later I bought African Cooking, and Vienna's Empire when I found them closed out. African Cooking is a bit myopic, based on the fact that it was written by a South African and is heavy in recipes of that region (to the neglect of others), but Vienna's Empire is extremely good as a retrospective of a classical cuisine. Maybe it's time to buy some of the others....I've never actually seen a list before.