The world’s most avid cookbook fan?
I would be lost without them.
Even with all there is to learn from family, and the slogging away in kitchens many of us have done, to cook without cookbooks feels like… isolation.
Cookbooks are crystallisations, explosions of elaborate possibilities. They riff on themes or focus on methods and cultures. They explore fusions and personalities. They give access to restaurants who knows who can afford. They are creativity catalysts.
Last night I made a dal spiced with Kashmiri Korma spices. It started with the recipe but quickly riffed on it, with inspiration and endless pumpkin and carrot tops from my Loop Growers veg glut. And the night before: a ‘Paramount’ chicken curry, which I followed to the minutest degree, because that’s part of the fun of a Christine Manfield dish. They generally include 4 separate recipes and 40 plus ingredients. A curry making marathon.
I skim cookbooks when I’m looking for inspiration, or dive deep into them for techniques. I defer to expert authors when something’s not working. And because I have so many of them, I index surf, too (one of my favourite sports). Last week I wanted to know more about flat breads from various countries. Surfing turned up 20. I swear you can’t google that kind of access.