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Apr 12, 2008 06:38 AM

Fifty Cookbooks [Mark Bittman Would] Rather Not Live Without

Here’s a link to a list that Bittman published in his NYTimes blog.

And here’s a link to his blog from yesterday summarizing readers’ responses.

It will be interesting to see readers’ contributions when he gets around to posting them. Lots of ideas here for possible Cookbooks of the Month (and a few we've already done).

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  1. Very interesting! Thank you for posting this link.


    2 Replies
    1. wow, just looked at the list and i have 13 of the books. plus many, many others. i really am addicted to cookbooks. when my kitchen was be redone i insisted on having a 6 foot bookcase installed, but now it is full......
      i think i must down size or else

      1. Happily I have 17 of them. I will add the rest to my giant list of "cookbooks to look into". I have over 850 cookbooks and just love to read them. I think there is no better way to learn about a culture or a region than by reading cookbooks from the area. Plus you never know when you will find your next favorite recipe.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mothership

          I'm so happy to have found Chowhound and some like-minded people! My husband thinks my love of cookbooks is a bit odd and doesn't understand how I can spend an afternoon reading them (his interests are sports and politics). I've been buying books for years and always pick up one or two when travelling but have only recently gotten serious about building a proper collection. This Bittman list is a great reference point and I'll definitely seek some of them out.

        2. I think it's a very interesting list, although from my perspective, there are is at least one glaring omission. I would most definitely not want to live without Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and while he has her "The Way To Cook" and other books on French food, I would still have included that one. Also, I have fallen in love with Fuschia Dunlop's books on Chinese food, and would have included one of her books in the Chinese category in addition to the on by Barbara Tropp.

          In the "Chef's Books that Work for Home Cooks" category, I most definitely would have included Judy Rodgers' "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook," Suzanne Goin's "Sunday Suppers at Lucques," and Alice Water's "The Chez Panisse Cookbook," or "Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook."

          From that list, I definitely want to check out the "French Farmhouse Cookbook," by Susan Herrmann Loomis and really hope that one day we get around to doing one of Penelope Casas' books on Spanish food.

          Glad to see the nod for Claudia Rodin. After our month doing Arabesque, I am convinced she's the best current author on middle eastern food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DanaB

            I'd like to do one of the Casas' books too (or a group of them).

          2. This list seems to be identical to the list in my copy of How to Cook Everything which is at least 8 years old. The most recently published cookbook is from 1998, so it doesn't include any cookbooks from the past 10 years (which has been a damn good period for cookbooks).

            7 Replies
            1. re: Megiac

              If you look at his blog, the topic of the list came up because he was updating it. Here's the link:


              And the blog on the feedback:


              A couple of other authors that repeatedly came up in reader feedback were Deborah Madison and Dorrie Greenspan.

              1. re: DanaB

                It will be fun to see his updated list. I wonder if he'll stick to 50 cookbooks and will have to boot some of his old favs to make room for newer ones or if he'll need to expand the list! I love these kinds of list--I'm such a sucker for this kind of stuff.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Yeah, I already ordered one of them from the list.

                  1. re: yayadave

                    HA! Which one? I've been admiring a few as well. By the way, I only have ONE of the books on the list and I'll say that I only purchased it recently at the urging of a few of the home cooking 'hounds.

                    I have a long way to go, apparently.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      I went for the Edward Giobbi one, because I have two others of his which I like. I don't have many on the list, either. Many of the books on the list are for places whose cuisine doesn't interest me a whole lot. Maybe if you're Mark Bittman you have to be able to say you cook from VietNam and Thailand and eastern Mediterranean and a twelve square mile island in the Baltic and a village in the Congo, but I don't.

                      Of course, sometimes when I order used books, things go awry. I'll believe it when it's in my mail box.

                      1. re: yayadave

                        Ooh..good time of year to get that Giobbi one. I hope nothing goes awry.

                        You know, it's unrealistic (especially given my own particular lack of cooking skill), but I actually do wish I could cook at least a classic dish or two from each of the world's cuisines just so I could have exposure to that cuisine's techniques and flavors and influences. I learn so much by reading a really good cookbook. But, I just can't get that deep into that many cookbooks. So many cookbooks, so little time.

                        And, really, if you think about it, he's just scratched the surface with 50 cookbooks! Even his U.S. regional cuisine isn't that fleshed out if you start picking at it...


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Yeah. Any one's "Best of .... List" is another persons garbage list. Look at all the different suggestions on the home cooking board for a "Dessert Cookbook of the Month." We just have to remember to call it "difference" and not "right and wrong."

                          Lately I've been getting my exposure to Thai food at a restaurant. I order some things that I don't know what they are. They come out looking beautiful and taste great. Then I order some rice stuff for dessert!