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Nov 3, 2007 12:01 PM

Wanted: A Cookbook To Curl Up With [Moved from Home Cooking board]

Does anyone have a good suggestion for a cookbook that is not only filled with great pictures and recipes, but is also good to read from cover to cover? I'm interested in finding a cookbook that I could read from beginning to end the same way I would a novel.

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  1. Nigella Lawson's How To Eat doesn't have pictures, but reads like a book - though it is very English. Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries, has lots of photos, but again, is English. Tessa Kiros's Falling Cloudberries is novel-like with travels to her mother's Finland, father's Cyprus and a childhood in South Africa, lots of photos and recipes. Laurie Colwin' Home Cooking and More Home cooking are both delightful (but no pics). Not exactly a cookbook, but M.F.K. Fisher's books are pretty terrific and there are some recipes.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Athena

      Second these. Nigella Lawson's Feast is also a good read, and has gorgeous pictures.

      I have a stunning cookbook I picked up in Scotland from the Three Chimneys restaurant on the Isle of Skye - the story of the restaurant, plus absolutely fantastic pictures.

      1. re: Amuse Bouches

        So glad to see Nigella's name come up here first -- and she would be delighted too. If you enjoyed "Feast" be sure to read her latest -- "Nigella Express". Gorgeous pictures, delicious recipes. Also a good bedside read, but not exactly cookbooks, are Anthony Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour" and "The Nasty Bits". He's irreverent, witty and seems to love what he's doing (and eating!)

        1. re: Amuse Bouches

          Absolutely How to Eat. She is a fantastic writer and I have read it like a book- the only cookbook that I have read in that manner out of the 200 or so I own. No pictures, though- but there are other places for that. Actually, Kylie Kwong's Heart and Soul has excellent photos, stories and recipes. A very good read.

        2. re: Athena

          Laurie Colwin's book was my first thought, also really enjoy both Nigella and MFK. I also like the Sterns' Square Meals (which has an intro by MFK), most particularly the nursery food chapter. And I also second the Ruth Reischl suggestion--Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples--her serial memoir is fantastic (and includes recipes, but more importantly, much about food that will make you swoon).

        3. I love to read cookbooks like novels, but generally the books I choose don't offer much in the way of pictures.
          Ones that stand out for me are:
          Barbara Tropps Chines Cooking book, she offers a lot of personal history, which makes it very interesting, and I think she was a really good person, doing something unique for her time.
          Morning Food by Margaret Fox. Fox is hysterical, and the sidebar stories are priceless. Good recipes too. Evening Food was a collaboration with her then-husband, not nearly as entertaining.
          Any of the Diana Kennedy cookbooks, these often have photos and I like to live vicariously when reading these, without messing up my kitchen.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rabaja

            I've been reading Diana Kennedy's My Mexico like that - not huge on the pictures, but great if you're loving Mexico.
            It totally depends on what your interests are. Zuni Cafe Cookbook is also a good read.

            1. re: rabaja

              rabaja, I love Barbara Tropp's cookbook as well.

              Did you go to China Moon? I'm on a quest for their house blend tea.

            2. Nancy Verdi Barr's "We Called It Macaroni" is a favorite of mine as I grew up in Providence and learned to love Italian food in high school. It has a lot of interesting Italian American experiences told first hand and wonderful recipes.

              1. Jean Anderson's brand-new "A Love Affair with Southern Cooking."

                1 Reply
                1. re: pikawicca

                  I am seconding this recommendation, I picked this up at the library today and will buy it. I am entranced. Lee Bros. will probably be donated to the Red Cross Book Sale. I don't care if it got a Beard award, errors and just plain poor info turned me off.

                2. Though they don't have lots of pretty pictures, I find Rick Bayless' books make for some good reading--he includes a good deal of interesting information about ingredients and some thoughtful commentary on the differences between American and Mexican habits of eating.

                  I just picked up Joyce Goldstein's "Sephardic Flavors" off of the remainder pile at a local bookshop ($6.99 for a hardcover edition!). She provides a historical overview of role of Jews and Jewish culture on the Iberian peninsula as well as an overview of Kosher dietary regulations. Then come the pretty pictures of food! Many of the recipes are introduced with little mini-histories of the dish.

                  Goldstein's "Saffron Shores" is also lovely, but doesn't have as much historical information in the main body of the book. FWIW, Saffron Shores was also on the remainder pile.

                  Finally, a book that has a lot of cultural information, and no pretty pictures is "Catalan Cuisine" by Colman Andrews. This book does much to show how the cuisine of Catalan lands is at once connected to, but distinctive from, those of other regions of the Mediterranean and of Spain itself.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hohokam

                    I second this! We were able to attend his Catalan dinner at the Philadelphia Art Museum during the "Book and the Cook" series a couple years ago. Sharing the wines, recipes, and stories makes it come alive.