Apr 28 • 11M

My Most Cherished Cookbooks

Plus: Ten Cookbook Questions with Paula Forbes, Dinner at Bar Moruno, My New Kettle, and Links.

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Are you a person who loves to cook but every now and then you screw up? You've come to the right place! Since 2004, Adam Roberts (aka The Amateur Gourmet) has been writing about his adventures and misadventures in the kitchen. He's the author of three books (including the upcoming Broadway cookbook, Give My Swiss Chards to Broadway) and the author of a biweekly newsletter for Substack. Each week on The Amateur Gourmet podcast, there's a theme, interviews with famous chefs, writers, actors, and cookbook authors connected to that theme, plus visits from friends and family, and lots of yodeling. If you like what you hear, be sure to become a paid subscriber and you'll have access to twice weekly recipes, essays, bonus podcast material (including Ten Feisty Food Questions with that week's guest), plus threads where you can engage with other Amateur Gourmet fans about food topics that you care about. Just know there's no judgment here: we all screw up in the kitchen!
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Hey everyone,

I’m so happy that so many of you enjoyed my cookbook chat with Paula Forbes as much as I had making it. Now, as a special treat, you can listen to my Ten Bonus Questions with Paula above: find out her favorite place to shop for cookbooks, which iconic cookbook she’s most “meh” on, and which three cookbooks she’d save in a fire.

Of course, asking Paula that question made me look at my own collection. Which are my most treasured cookbooks? The most irreplaceable? The ones that I would save in a fire?

For starters, there’s the ones you see above: Toasts and After Dinner Stories, a historical little book from 1907 that Celia Sack from Omnivore Books put into a package of books that Craig ordered for Christmas a few years ago (he gave her a budget and told her to pick some cool ones!); the other, Holiday Punches, is from 1953 and I picked it up at a used bookstore somewhere in my travels (I forget) but I love the cover.

Also in that Celia box was the book you see on the left: a 1954 edition of The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, which is as much a delight to read as it is to cook from. Then my friend Diana recently got me this cool 1989 edition of The Supper of the Lamb — a wonderful book that I read in paperback long ago — for my birthday. An amazing gift!

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On the quirkier side, I have this unusual Felicity and Roald Dahl cookbook: Memories with Food at Gipsy House from 1991 (don’t worry, there’s no recipes for boiled children) and, one of my favorites in the bunch: Uta Hagen’s Love for Cooking from 1976. For those not in the know, Uta Hagen originated the role of Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and was a formidable acting teacher. This book is a real hoot to read, with some decent recipes in its pages (I need to make her goulash).

Here are some relics from my Craig Claiborne phase. I grew interested in him (the first food critic for The New York Times and possibly the first American food critic ever) after reading The United States of Arugula, in which it said he had sex with a chicken (!). I went on to read his memoir, which I thought about adapting into a one-man show. I think it'd work for a good, seasoned actor.

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As mentioned in the podcast, I have a good collection of Time Life books. Behold Italy (on the left) and Scandinavia (on the right). I love that Scandinavian cover, even if I wouldn’t want to eat a fish aspic.

At the top of my bookshelf, you’ll find two important souvenirs: one is from El Bulli, where I ate the most epic dinner of my life with Craig in 2007; the other, from Chanterelle, a landmark New York City restaurant that I went to with my mom in 2005. (Isn’t it amazing that I was blogging way back then?)

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