There has been a great backlash lately in the food world. Many have been talking about the home cook's ball and chain attachment to recipes and cookbooks. I am the first to agree that a recipe is a template, a jumping off point, an idea, a thought, a place in time, except of course when it comes to baking. Baking, the science vs savory the dash of this and a bit of that, requires a few more rules, a need to remain within certain parameters that savory cooking does not.
Michael Ruhlman has recently written a book that should free many, both savory and baking to experiment, Ratio follows the credos I learned in culinary school. Here is the basis, the framework, the structure, now feel free to riff on it. Be a jazz cook if you want, just know where the chord began. 6116 (eggs:flour:sugar:butter)=genoise, 1:1:1 (flour: to fat: To liquid)=roux for soup , 2:2:1=roux for sauce, 3:3:1=roux for a soufflé, these were the frames, the chords that I had to memorize to be able to make anything I dreamed up. This book which, by the way, should be in every library and on every shelf. It should have loads of notes and scribbles in the margins of every recipe its owner has tried. It should be passed down like Larousse and Julia were to me.
But I love cookbooks, adore them, read them cover to cover. cookbooks are my jumping off point for new ideas, they help me plan classes, they make me want to try new things. In a month or so we are going to be adding a cookbook section to the front of our cooking school and here is where you come in.
I am trying to compile a list of 100 - 125 cookbook titles that should be in everyone's library. Cookbooks that inspire, that teach, that led you by the hand into the kitchen and made you fall in love with cooking. Cookbooks that made you want to go out and hit the farmer's market, and find the perfect fruit, or vegetable or meat. The books that inspired you to call your friends and invite them over just so you could cook for them, the book that made you not fear your mother-in-laws arrival on the doorstep. The book that allowed you to throw that first dinner party or dive into a foreign cuisine.
Email me, speak below in the comments, tell me your favorites.