Now that the sorry thread of insulted gift-receiver has met its well-deserved end, I'd like to ask fellow hounds how they chose cookbooks to give as gifts. Do you give books on cuisines you're sure will please, or ones that might nudge a friend in a new direction? Personally, I love to get a cookbook gift from someone who has cooked from that book and loved it. (Even more appreciated are favorite recipes scribbled on food-smeared bits of paper.) What's you approach?
I don't give cookbooks to anyone I don't know very well - usually just my mother, sister and sister-in-law. I try to get them something that fits with their style of cooking. For example, my SIL likes straightforward cooking and baking so I might get her a Barefoot Contessa book while my mom likes to branch out a bit so I got her Sunday Suppers at Lucques, which she loved. I collect cookbooks myself so I will usually give a book that I also have so I know the recipes will work.
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Generally I dont give cookbooks unless I have used and like the book myself. Sometimes these gifts work, sometimes not, usually because I am trying uselessly to move the recipient in a new direction. Better to give a gift that fits with how they view themselves than try to "develop their taste" My parents have finally given back a number of very good books I gave them.
ps why not use the word "giving"?
I only buy cookbooks for people I know well (e.g. sister, good friend into cooking). For my sister, I might buy her something she's requested (or something I might have heard her mention). For a good friend, something on a cuisine she is interested in or an appliance she may have recently purchased. I don't try to send them in a new direction (although I would love it if someone bought something different for me). Since my good, culinarily inclined friends and I are far flung, we don't get a chance to indulge in the "food-smeared" recipe sheets--we only email them these days!
The only folks I've bought Cbs for were my daughter and DIL. The first ones for my daughter were the basic books she'd been eating from out of my kitchen. After that, it became for both of them, cookbooks that I'd cooked several dishes that each of them had liked, and (I'm one of those folks who write in their Cbs) my notes handwritten in each one, copied off my original notes in the book. Beyond that, I'd only do it if someone was specifically lusting for a particular book. (And I wouldn't write in it.)