No more cookbooks

I have resolved not to buy another printed book until I remove one from the nearly 2000 volumes that currently take up shelf space in our house; and that doesn’t include at least 500 cooking magazines.

Despite moving overseas and living in small apartments, we still travelled with our favourite authors.  Of course during those five years we have collected other favourites and we now have not only the huge task of unpacking nearly 100 boxes but also the more arduous task of deciding where to put all these books. Even taking the opportunity to give away numerous titles that we won’t read again, we have run out of space.

The most difficult magazines to part with are my collection of Gourmets, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Cuisine and Bon Appetite that I have collected over 30 years.  Andy was threatened with instant divorce if he even considered disposing of these treasured items. My children have decided that they will use them to make me a paper mache coffin, which I think would be sending me off in the appropriate style.

You would think I would have learnt not to buy more titles after the initial move from Brisbane to Los Angeles.However, I have vowed not to buy any more cooking magazines, well, at least not until I can find shelf space for them. So I have started to leaf through these old friends to select interesting articles or recipes and then I am tossing the skeleton out. This is more fun than looking at the family photo album as many of the recipes carry memories of fantastic meals with family and friends or of holidays inspired by articles.

And while I am going through these memories I am beginning to compile a volume of my favourite recipes. You know, the ones that you tend to make regularly because they are everyone’s favourite, or very easy and still look impressive.  I am also culling my recipe books, sending most of these to a nearby charity, as my children don’t want my old books.

So here is my list of a dozen must keeps. There are some authors to whom I have been loyal for decades such as Elizabeth David, Julia Child, and Richard Olney. Then I would include more recent cooks who know and understand the Australian lifestyle including Stephanie Alexander and Bill Grainger. Then there are the cooks who have made the transition between Australia and the more traditional UK including Skye Gingell. I would have to add Peter Gordon into that list as his blend of western and eastern flavours is wonderfully imaginative and able to be adapted to home cooking. Then for the vegetarian in the family I would add Maria Elia plus Richard Bertinet for his wonderful sourdough bread and finally because they combine escapism and food, I would include Lucy and Greg Malouf.  Naturally I would have to include many of the wonderful Women’s Weekly food magazines because they never fail to provide a dish when needed. There are so many other writers I could include and whose ideas and recipes I use regularly. This list doesn’t even begin to cover all my favourite cooks and I haven’t included web sites that also contain wonderful food ideas including the many food blogs that enthusiasts contribute to.

I would love feedback on other favourite food writers and why.

2 thoughts on “No more cookbooks

  1. aixcentric

    Hello: We finally visited Australia in 2008 and loved it – and yes, despite vowing not to, I did sneak books into an already under-pressure suitcase; I still enjoy reading The Long Table by Mary Moody which I bought while visiting the Blue Mountains. I loved her descriptions and photos of her family life there and of course appreciated her love of France from her 6 month stay in St Rémy. Love your idea about the coffin – I suspect my 3 will do the same. Bon apres-midi!


  2. leisa

    i will always remember that you taught me how to cook! my first job… sitting in the office with you at 5pm every day… relaying the contents of my fridge, searching for inspiration. you’d mull on it and then prescribe the perfect dinner – said in such a way that i didn’t even need to write it down. i still cook some of those same dishes today in my home far far away in buckinghamshire. leis



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