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looking for best selection of food books?

I am in a position where I need to do lots of research on different foods, dishes, cultures, etc. (lucky me!) Of course, between reading and eating, I'll choose eating. But, there are many times when I need to do some research without a fork in hand. Does anyone have a favorite store and/or library for food books? Recipe and "how-to" books are great, but also food culture, history, and theory type books are great, too. Or, is there a chain bookstore with a particularly good food section? I look online a lot, of course, but there's nothing like flipping through an actual book...

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  1. The Cook's Library on 3rd street.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Adsvino

      I'll second and third the Cook's Library. Nothing but cookbooks and the like. Great place.

    2. Also try Dutton's Brentwood, on San Vicente Blvd.

      1. A few years ago, I went to a fabulous used cookbook store in Pasadena. I actually liked it more than The Cook's Library on 3rd Street. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name or exact location (other than it was not in the Old Town area, nor was it on Lake Ave.). I'll do some digging, and will let you know if I get more info.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brandygirl

          That would be Janet Jarvits, on Washington at Hill in Pasadena. She has an enormous selection of cookbooks, at probably the highest prices in the country. I find it a joyless, antiserendipitous place to shop, but the comprehensiveness is not to be denied.

          1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

            LE SANCTUAIRE no longer has a store in SM, only retail store is in SF, sadly.

          2. In addition to checking out the Cook's Library on Third Street (which is a bookstore rather than a library), I suggest you get a card with the Los Angeles Public Library. You can order books online to be delivered to your local branch, and I've yet to find a cookbook/food book they didn't have.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DanaB

              The cookbook 'section' at the main branch downtown is pretty darn good. And you can have lunch at cafe pinot while you're there.

            2. There is or was(?) a fantastic cookbook/food-gastronomy book store in Burbank, near the mall, but I can't remember the name. Including out of print books.

              Also, Vroman's in Pasadena has a good cookbook/food book section.

              3 Replies
              1. re: slacker

                I second the Vroman's recommendation.

                Of course, with the internet, there is an endless supply of food-related books at your fingertips. Frankly, I have given up on most bookstores for food books at this point (that should be my cue that I've gone off the deep end) and I use Amazon. I find myself getting a lot of used books at cheap prices for the food guides I use when I travel.

                1. re: slacker

                  the place in burbank was janet jarvits, who has moved to pasadena (see above). i concur, that, while a good reference source, it is not a wonderful shopping experience. i love the pasadena central library's cookbook buyer...i'm there once a week, checking the new cookbook shelf.

                  1. re: chez cherie

                    Do you mean the store was/is owned by a person named Janet Jarvits? Do you know the name of the store?

                2. I'm in love with the cookbook Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali. It's not going to be a main source of information for you, but most if not all of the recipes in there begin with a few sentences about where it's from or how it was traditionally done and what adjustments his recipe makes to that. Pretty interesting little nuggets (and fantastic recipes too by the way)

                  1. http://www.lapl.org/resources/guides/...

                    At the bottom of this page is the contact info for the Culinary Historians of Southern California, suggest you also check out this organization.

                    1. agree with above posters. CULINARY HISTORIANS OF SOCAL is a good resource.

                      another good resource is CORNUCOPIA by JUDITH HERMAN. it was republished in 2005 with 300 years of food history and lore. http://www.amazon.com/Cornucopia-Bein...

                      lastly, you may apply at the HUNTINGTON LIBRARY to be a reader if they feel your project is suited.

                      good luck!