Sunday, July 1, 2007

Bookcase in the Dining Room

[Original post date on, May 20, 2007]

Space constraints in apartments past have usually meant there's been a bookcase of some kind squeezed into the eating area wherever I've lived. It houses the Larousse Gastronomique and a Webster's dictionary, good for answering questions that come up during dinner conversation. The rest of the bookcase contains cookbooks, naturally, but also some miscellania: bird and insect field guides, field guides to the life of the seashore, the binoculars, a magnifying glass, some collecting equipment I picked up at the last Entomology meeting I attended. Hey, it works for us.

Cookbooks represent the collision of two of my major obsessions, books and food. Food works its way into my writing a lot (I especially enjoyed inventing Faerie food in the Spellkey series, 1987-1993). I gave my husband a tagine for Christmas, and we've been enjoying Morroccan food ever since...chicken with artichoke hearts, preserved lemon, and olives. So I gave him a copy of Paula Wolfert's classic, COUSCOUS AND OTHER GOOD FOOD FROM MORROCCO. It turns out to be one of those cookbooks that documents a magnificent obsession. Not so practical for actual cooking, but great as an armchair food travelogue and for the gleam of madness in the author's eye. The description of how to make authentic couscous is very intimidating, but there is a recipe for lamb slow cooked in paprika until it dissolves that, well, I just have to make, that's all.

Next: some favorite cookbooks worth tracking down.

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