As we continue this series I am going to focus on different types of cookbooks along with their pros and cons.
The first type I am going to address is my personal favorite, and that is what I will call cooking books. I distinguish them from what I will call recipe books and picture books, which I’ll deal with later in the series.
Cooking books are the cookbooks that talk about cooking. We have several great examples in our library:
Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless
Beard on Bread by James Beard
Crazy for Crab by Fred Thompson
How to Grill by Steven Raichlen
The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
The reason these are my favorite type of cookbooks is because I feel you can learn the most from them. They tend to give a lot of details and focus more on the history of the dish, or highlight the techniques involved. They often focus on the difficult or important steps, etc. Usually they will take time to explain the why and not just the how of a recipe. I find that this is the information that allows you to do more than just duplicate a dish, but to become a better cook. The stories they tell also make them fun to read. Another way these cooking books are different is that they usually will feature several variations for a particular recipe, or present a section based around preparing an entire meal. I also feel that of the different types of cookbooks, these stand up to electronic media the best. There are some blogs and websites that have this depth of information, but webpages tend to lend themselves more to other types of presentations that we will cover next.