As an avid member of a Facebook group appropriately called The Cookbook Junkies, I’m always interested in how others became obsessed. The group’s owner asked us to tell our stories of how be became cookbook collectors on the website: Eat Your Books . If you are not familiar with this site and you have many cookbooks you should check it out. It is designed for you to store a list of the cookbooks you own. When you are searching for a recipe you type in the recipe name and it tells you which books you own has a version of that recipe with brief description/ingredients etc. You then seek your book and locate the recipe. Of course it is limited to those books which have been indexed on the site. I would guesstimate that 80% of the books I own are indexed. I do have some old and obscure ones in my collection that are not indexed but those are kept for memories or ingredient specific inspiration.
Anyway to the point of the question, I wrote the following brief synopsis of my progression to an obsessed cookbook collector aka A Cookbook Junkie!
THE MAKING OF A COOKBOOK COLLECTOR
At 13 and the oldest of three, I started cooking when my mother returned to the workforce. For the first year or so all I did was start dinner and when she arrived home she would finish it. So it was a lot of prep work and some initial cooking like starting the stew, or putting the chicken in to bake for oven fried chicken parts. Eventually I was trusted with the meatloaf instructions. I say instructions as once my Mother learned a recipe she rarely referred back to it. A lot of measuring was done by how far up on a glass vessel you added an ingredient. For how much salt to add to boiling water for pasta she once told me, via phone, to cup my hand and fill to first fold beneath my fingers! I decided then that there had to be more and concise instructions in cookbooks. I devoured her 1945 edition of Woman’s Home Companion, a gift from her Mother-in-law, known to me as Nana. I have her book as well as a 1947 edition I purchased on e-bay that is in better condition. After that I started reading the recipes in the supermarket magazines she treated herself with sometimes, Woman’s Day and Family Circle. From there I craved more cookbooks and added a few to her shelves over the years. We shared a love for The Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson & Elaine Hanna. I literally wore mine out (as in it fell apart) and replaced it with The New Doubleday Cookbook version. I had been gifted with many cookbooks over the first years of marriage as people knew my hobby was cooking. In the early 80’s I started buying more cookbooks for myself and expanding my abilities in the kitchen. Then came Martha Stewart’s Entertaining, a coffee table sized book that inspired me to quit my job and with my wife and our best friend start a catering company. We kept it going for 5 years as a part-time venture. Then moved on. I kept buying cookbooks for inspiration in the kitchen. The joke was that I’d read a recipe in 8 books…close them and create my own version in the kitchen. I returned to professional cooking in 2004 as a Personal Chef and increased my cookbook obsession greatly! I built it up to be in the 500 range and recently got a grip on myself and have slowed the procurement to around 10 new titles a year! In other words last year I only added 10!!
Some of the locations where the obsession resides:
Eat Well…Be Well!