Author and fellow Instagrammer, R.J. Nello, is currently running a very cool series of posts right now involving titles found on the bookshelves of friends and family. Since an ocean separates us, and Robert can’t simply pop in and take a picture of my bookshelf, I decided to share one of mine here.
My love affair with food began years ago. Much of it had to do with the amount of traveling my family did. Unless you are inexplicably drawn to fast food restaurants, sacrilege—sorry, but it has to be said—it’s virtually impossible to travel and not fall in love with food, especially the diverse offerings of other countries. Given our fascination with food, it only stands to reason that innovative chefs continue to push the envelope and take even the plainest of cuisines to new and exciting levels. Consequently, any preconceived notions I might have upon first visiting a new country, for despite my attempts to withstand them, they always creep in, are generally shattered in the best possible way.
When I was in culinary school, we—the students—were instructed, pretty much forbidden really, to purchase cookbooks. Instead, we were told to buy books on technique. It was expected that we take our classroom education and learn new ways to create new takes on old classics, not merely recreate the old. Despite this advice, I remained fascinated with cookbooks, and thanks in part to BookBub and ebooks, have amassed quite the collection as evidenced in the posted images.
Beyond cookbooks, I‘ve developed a fascination with food journals. A food journal is usually written by one, famous or not, who has travelled or cooked their way to a passion for food and chronicles that journey to share with readers, sometimes almost in a diary-like fashion.
My first food journal was Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, followed by Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte and Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris. Here was reading I could get behind. Here were chapters that fed my soul. For to truly love food, it can’t just be about what one ingests merely to satisfy hunger. Food is also about history, family, and love. Every family has certain recipes that are generations old and are made year in, year out, sometimes weekly and sometimes only at holiday time. For us, there was halushkie, halupki, and pierogis. Some of this food I love and some, not so much, but all of it is part of my heritage and makes me feel at home at the very aroma.
The recipes found in food journals come from the heart, and somehow, the love and the stories behind “Jimmy’s Pink Cookies” and “Italian Grotto Eggs” from A Homemade Life, and the “Almond Cake” in Cooking for Mr. Latte make them all the more flavorful.