Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Five Cookbook Meme

I am ashamed to say I was one of the first three people in the food blogging community to be tagged by Amy for what has since morphed into "The 5 Cookbook Meme". Yesterday I was tagged for it again by David Liebovitz who is 'currantly' making me tres jealous with his wonderful photos of berries in Le Neubourg Market an hour from Paris. I just rooted through my mail and saw that Amy tagged me way back on May 20th. Since then, scores have taken part, as Ana from Pumpkin Pie Bungalow illustrates in her brilliant post entitled The History of the 5 Cookbook Meme which tracks the geneaology of, and particpants in, this series of posts. So with a nod to Amy and David but without any further ado, here are my answers...

photograph picture of all of the recipe books I have with me in America
This is my USA-centric Recipe Book collection which includes a few I have bought recently, some oldies that have found their way into my transatlantic luggage on trips back to the UK and some that have been given to me as gifts.

1. Total number of cookbooks I've owned:
Well over a hundred. Maybe more, even. I am a cookbook addict, I have been all my life. I remember at one point, during the 90s, still in my early 20s, when I found I had amassed well over 50 books, so I decided to clam down. I trimmed them down, giving my least favourite to the charity shop. I tried to use my willpower to stop myself from buying anymore but I was weak and then started furiously collecting them again. Unfortunately, since I moved to the US, most of my recipe books are gathering dust in my parents' attic. I do think about them sometime (my parents, as well as the books.)

2. Last cookbook I bought:
The last book I bought displays the influence of Fred. Really - I am not sure I would have bought it had I been by myself in the bookstore. It is Le Cordon Bleu at Home. It seems to be well laid out and it covers a lot of the French classic dishes. So when Fred is yearning one dish or another from his homeland, I hope this book will help me out. I used it to make the gougere last week but I wasn't so impressed with the recipe. I would have preferred them puffier and more airy! Could have been my fault, I think I was still half asleep when I made them.

3. Last food book I read:
I am not sure if flipping through the Avoca Cookbook my sister sent from Ireland for my Birthday counts. Other than that, the last food book I read from start to finish was Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl.

4. Five cookbooks that mean a lot to me:

  • The Kitchen Wizard
    I totally loved this book when I was a kid. It fuelled my imagination. I am going to have to ask my mum if she still has it somewhere because I would totally love to revisit some of the stories and the recipes. Here is a description:
    A simple cookbook for children employing the medium of magic to convey the wonder of the chemical changes which produce good food. 8 pages of terms explained as "Basic Abracadabra" followed by A Munchkin Brunch, Lunchin Lilliput, Huckleberry Finn Raft Picnic, Dinner With Davy Crocket & finally, Eskimorsels!

  • Marguerite Patten's Everyday Cookbook
    Apparently I have mislaid this book. And now it seems to be out of print so I would do anything to get it back. I can't seem to find it for sale anywhere online. In fact, the only mention of it is by Delia Smith who republished the jam roly poly recipe on her site. It is very dated but I miss it for the basics, even though I do know the Victoria Sponge recipe off by heart.

  • The Reader's Digest Cookery Year (circa 1973) This is a fancy recipe book that was published in the early 70s. I think it was on special offer if you collected some labels or something, so every household had a copy but nobody actually used it. As I recall, it seemed very grand. My mother never, ever cooked from it. It was way too fancy. Me, however, I used to steal away with it and pour over the pictures in private. I was kind of fascinated that some people would want to spend all that time and money making such elaborate meals. It was the window to a world I wouldn't truly discover until I was much older.

  • The Handiest Kitchen Conversion Charts Ever All In One Place - a free pamphlet-style book from Food & Wine Books in association with American Express Publishing. I recieved this in the mail a couple of years ago. It is invaluable to me since I use a combination of US and European recipes and this little thing converts anything and everything. I use it nearly everytime I bake.

  • A Marks & Spencer Book of Dessert Recipes.
    I am not sure of the exact title of this book or where it is. I hope my mum still has it somewhere. After all, it contains the family favourite pavalova recipe which was meant to feed 8 but which the four of us never had any trouble polishing off in one sitting. I think in the past I probably made more recipes from that book than any other, except Marguerite Patten's book mentioned above.

  • I am going to tag the following three people with this meme: Stack of Toast - Tedamenu Tucker - My Little Food Blog. I checked and I don't think they have been tagged before.

    Visit Pumpkin Pie Bungalow to read about all the other food bloggers favourite cook books.

    posted in and and and and
    The Five Cookbook Meme


    • At 17/7/05 11:53, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      sam I have just looked at the readers digest book and there is a napkin marking the pages for egg custard, meringues, syllabub( I remember making this for a tennis club party)The M&S Choc. cooking book has your writing doubling the quantity for profiteroles with choc sauce I believe this was for your 18th(?) dinner party and we still have the photos. happy memories

    • At 17/7/05 13:26, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Please send me your copy of "The Handiest Kitchen Conversion Charts Ever All In One Place"... it sounds too good to be true!


    • At 17/7/05 13:29, Blogger Ana said…

      Hi Sam,
      Thanks for answering the meme. I've just updated the History.

      I am also (crazy me) making a table with all the information contained in the replies. I'm interested to see which books were chosen by most respondents, which authors people like the best, you know, stats. I'm about mid list by now. I hope to get done by September at the latest and then I'll do a post about it.

      It is funny, every now and then I think that the list is about dead and then I get some answers. Thanks for putting a link to the History of the meme in your blog. With your readership, I'm going to get a flurry of answers.

    • At 18/7/05 07:07, Blogger Sam said…

      mum - do you mean M&S Chocolate book or dessert book. I thought it was a general dessert book, not solely chocolate.

      david - errrr..... no? It's an ugly little pamphlet style thingy anyway, I am sure it would cramp your style.

      ana - can't wait to see the table. I am suspecting my 5 books aren't replicated by anyone else, though.

    • At 19/7/05 14:40, Blogger Dive said…


      I made excellent gougeres last weekend from Thomas Keller's The French Laundry cookbook and they turned out perfect.

      I'll probably post about it on my site.


      PS Here's a link to the recipe:

    • At 19/7/05 22:29, Blogger Sam said…

      thanks Mr bacon Press
      I happen to have that book so I'll check that recipe out.
      The time before last the recipe we used was off the internet, in French, and that worked great too, but I am not sure if I could find it again.

    • At 22/5/06 15:08, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Sam, I've just been searching on the internet for a replacement copy of Marguerite Patten's "Everyday Cook Book in Colour" and happened across your blog. Our copy is badly beaten up and stained due to much good use over a period of 36 years, but remarkably is still useable. (Just have to handle it gently!) If there is a particular recipe you want, I can always forward it. Our version was published by Hamlyn Publishing Group in 1968 in London, New York, Sydney and Toronto and was printed in Paris by Brodard. Was wondering if any of your readers know whether books of the same/similar title published other than London are identical?
      Funnily enough, this Marguerite Patten book rests in our recipe drawer right next to Readers Digest "The Cookery Year", which I used to frequently consult for directions when required to prepare some part of a meal and wanted to give the impression that I had more than a smattering of rough knowledge!
      ...and guess what!! Only a further two inches away is a set of "St. Michael Cookery Library" cookbooks, including "Just Desserts" by Jeni Wright, with frangipane flan probably the most used recipe.
      Three out of five isn't too bad now, is it?


    • At 17/7/06 00:08, Blogger Sam said…

      John - you are right - that is AMAzing!!!!


    Post a Comment

    << Home