Who needs cookbooks when you have Pinterest, AllRecipes, food blogs and numerous other online recipe sites? It’s true – it has never been easier to instantly get your hands on myriad versions of any dish you can imagine, complete with photos and step by step instructions, not to mention reviews, ratings, and suggestions from readers, but there is just something so satisfying and much more permanent about the look and feel of a real cookbook. October is National Cookbook Month and a perfect time to celebrate the wide variety of mouthwatering cookbooks available today.
A cookbook, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is technically a “book containing recipes and other information about the preparation and cooking of food.” This clinical definition doesn’t begin to describe most cookbooks on the market or in kitchens today. Though cookbooks have been around for hundreds of years, at least as far back as the 3rd century BC, they have come a long way, even since the early days of modern all-purpose cookbooks like Betty Crocker, Good Housekeeping, and Joy of Cooking, venerable old standbys though they are. Now you can find shelf after shelf (or page after page if you are shopping online) of richly illustrated cookbooks devoted to every kind of food and cuisine, opening your eyes and mouth to new cultures and traditions. Other cookbooks cater to every type of cooking, cook, food, or diet imaginable. Some are devoted to cooks in a hurry, including eattweet: a twitter cookbook, a collection of 140 character recipes, or how about this 1989 cookbook, Manifold Destiny, recipes you can cook on your car engine as you travel – now that’s a timesaver! There are even cookbooks for pets; what cat wouldn’t love a helping of mackerel asparagus mousse from the Kitty-Cat Cookbook? If you are into heavy metal, you really can’t pass up Mosh Potatoes, a cookbook featuring “recipes, anecdotes, and mayhem from the heavyweights of heavy metal.”
The list of specialized cookbooks goes on and on, but one category close to all book lovers’ hearts is the literary cookbook. If you have a favorite book, there is a good chance there is a cookbook based on it, from children’s books to classics to pop culture and best sellers. Amazon lists hundreds of such books, but here is a small sampling:
- A Feast of Fire and Ice, featuring recipes from across the seven kingdoms and The Game of Scones: All Men Must Dine, described as a parody recipe book, serving up laughs as well as Game of Thrones inspired baked treats.
- The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Of Butterbeers and Treacle Tarts, and Cooking for Muggles are just a few of many cookbooks inspired by Harry Potter, while The Wizards Cookbook: Magical Recipes Inspired by Harry Potter, Merlin, The Wizard of Oz, and More pays homage to wizards of all sorts.
- Tea with Jane Austen and The Jane Austen Cookbook bring you back to the genteel days of 18th century England.
- Roald Dahl’s Completely Revolting Recipes will appeal to young fans of his books. Who could resist a chance to try Stink Bugs Eggs, Wormy Spaghetti, or Mudslinger Burgers, all straight from the pages of his popular books.
- Another cookbook geared to young cooks is Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters. Not only a collection of recipes, it is a beautifully illustrated book where readers can imagine themselves as “co-conspirators, cooks, and tellers of tales themselves.”
- Can’t decide on one book or author? Then Literary Eats is the cookbook for you. It lets you cook up the favorite dishes of 150 American authors, living and dead, from as far back as the 18th century.
Whatever your food preference, there is sure to be a cookbook devoted to it. For even more examples of unusual cookbooks, as well as a brief history of cookbooks, check out the links below, then celebrate this month by pulling out a favorite cookbook or treat yourself to a new one. Bon Appetit!