So if it was up to you to choose which new cookbooks to review for The New York Times—or for any blog, website, or publication—which ones would you select? How would you decide which ones deserved the attention?
● Only those that are in color?
● Only those by famous chefs?
● Only those with recipes that use unusual ingredients?
● Or easy-to-find ingredients?
● Only those that can be made in 20 minutes or less?
● Or that tax your cooking know-how?
Sam Sifton is the restaurant critic of The New York Times, and he just wrote an article for the Sunday Times Book Review about some new cookbooks. As I read it, I kept wondering how he chose the ones he wanted to write about.
He said this in his introductory comments:
“The world is divided between chefs and cooks, good cooks and bad ones. Chefs can visualize flavors and imagine tastes in their heads. The main characteristic of cooks is that they follow instructions. Good cooks follow instructions well, and can ape the excellence of chefs. The largest group, though, is cooks who are pretty good—not great, but game to get better. I am in that group.”
And later, “Cookbooks aren’t really about cooking, and haven’t been since the advent of color photography and food stylists. They’re mostly lifestyle catalogs, aspirational instruction manuals for lives we’d like to live.”
Well, I know some pretty good cookbooks that offer really good, cook-able recipes that people actually love to make and eat! And they’ve got personality, but it doesn’t come from lush photography.
Anyway, here’s Sam’s article so you can see what cookbooks he thought were worth talking about.