I believe there comes a time in life when every adult begins to question how much stuff is really necessary for leading a happy life. Obviously you need basic food and shelter, and I'm fortunate enough to have that. I remember a time when that was all I thought I needed. Then you graduate college, get a job, start getting paychecks, and start buying stuff. Car, nicer clothes, house, Kichen Aide mixer (ahhh!). And that's great. But then you hit a point in your life when you start to think about the bigger picture (college education for your son, retirement, paying off your house, traveling, starting your fantasy bakery/vegetarian catering business), and all of the material things seem, well, immaterial. And that's where my family is.
Which is great. Life seems simpler. We're saving money, thinking about the future. And I don't miss the things that used to seem so essential.
Except for one thing - cookbooks. I did pretty well for a while. I think I went almost a year without buying a new one. But recently I'm having a bit of a relapse. For Mother's Day, my husband bought me one I'd been resisting for months (Alice Water's Chez Panisse Vegetables). I figured I probably deserved a little Mother's Day present to myself, so I also bought Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian the same day (awesome). I thought that had done it.
Every time I think I've got enough books, the worst happens, I go to someones house and just happen to see a great looking book lying around in their kitchen. This book is just a little different, has something I haven't quite seen before, and fills me with a yearning that I thought I was over.
How bad is the problem? I've got 39 cookbooks total.
- Purchased: 18. Ok, maybe 7 of these don't count. They are 7 of a 12 volume Woman's Day series published in 1966 (missing volumes 1, 6, 7, 10, and 11).
- Gifts: 15. My family is well aware of, and exploits, my addiction.
- Borrowed: 2
- Hand me Downs: 2
- No Idea: 1
- Loaned out: 1 (I never forget)
Which are my favorites? These are books that make me well up with emotion. If I could only take you by the shoulders, look you in the eye, and passionately tell you about the change in my life brought about by these books. Ahhh, but instead, a list will have to do, in chronological order of impact on my life (anyone seen High Fidelity? )
- The Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver
- Happy Days with the Naked Chef (my sister waited in line to get this signed by Jamie for me)
- The Joy of Cooking, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Rombauer, Irma S. Rombauer
- The Omnivore's Dilemma (not a cookbook, but nonetheless a life changing book about food), Michael Pollan
- The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters
- The Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Darina Allen
- How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman
Am I done? I should be. But there are just a few more. I'm sure that once I get these six, I'll definitely, absolutely, certainly be done.
- Bread, Jeffrey Hamelman (Could it take my bread to the next level?)
- Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child, Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle (Classic, I'm reading My Life in France, so inspiring)
- The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, Nancy Harmon Jenkins (the casually placed book that sucked me in today)
- The New Moosewood Cookbook, Mollie Katzen (the classic vegetarian cookbook)
- Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison (strongly recommended from two respected sources!)
- The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Judy Rodgers (I simply have to know what all the fuss is about)