As someone who loves to cook, one thing that I do love about cataloging (for those of you who don’t follow my blog regularly, I am a somewhat reluctant, accidental cataloger) is looking at the new material that comes across my desk, particularly cookbooks. I always feel like I have found hidden treasure when I pull a book truck from the queue that is loaded with brand new cookbooks. Sadly, though, my efficiency and productivity drops rather quickly as I spend too much time perusing and not enough time cataloging. I cannot resist these volumes filled with recipes to read and imagine and, sometimes, try at home.
I did a quick keyword search for “cookbooks” in our System’s OPAC and got 1105 hits. Our member libraries’ shelves are filled with cookbooks. I borrowed one myself for this long, holiday weekend (although technically I “borrowed” it from my book truck, not from the library), and I’m trying a new recipe tonight from My Year in Meals; My Year in Cocktails by Rachel Ray and John Cuismano. Recently, I’ve also cataloged The Epicurious Cookbook, One Dish at a Time: Delicious Recipes and Stories From my Italian-American Childhood and Beyond by Valerie Bertinelli, and Fifty Shades of Chicken: 50 Chicken Recipes Bound to be Delicious by FL Fowler. And those are just the ones I can pull from my memory (that last one is kind of hard to forget). I’ve also noticed that a lot of cookbooks are included with the donated materials our member libraries receive.
Cookbooks can be expensive, which is a good reason to borrow them from your local public library. But I do have my own personal collection at home. Here is part of it:
I have about 46 cookbooks based on a brief scan of my bookshelf and a rough count. I not only like to browse through cookbooks and try new recipes, I like to read them, too. The best ones have great stories and anecdotes that provide a backdrop for the food. The pictures are great, too, except they usually raise your expectations beyond any realistic outcome–the dish may taste great, but chances are it won’t look quite as good as it does in the book. When a finished dish looks pretty, too, that’s just icing on the cake, so to speak.
In addition to cookbooks, I am fairly addicted to cooking magazines. I have whittled my obsession down to only one subscription–Bon Appetit–and have been a subscriber for probably 20 years. But I regularly read Food Network Magazine, Food and Wine, and Cooking Light.
True, you don’t have to borrow a cookbook from your local public library or buy one to find great recipes. You don’t need to subscribe to food magazines, either. There are many excellent cooking Web sites and recipes online just waiting to be found with a simple Google search for “easy spaghetti and meatballs” or something like that. You can even limit your search to recipes only using Google’s menu. And they’re free. A few of my favorite cooking Web sites are Epicurious.com, Foodnetwork.com, and allrecipes.com. I follow many cooking blogs–too many to name here. There are also great food and cooking apps you can get for your tablet or smartphone, many of which are free as well. Of course you can also get ebook versions of cookbooks, some of which are free, too. While our library system uses OverDrive for ebooks, as of now, there are no cookbook ebooks in our digital collection.
Still. Maybe it’s just the book lover in me, but even though I get most of my recipes online (or make them up myself) and store them on my iPad, nothing gives me quite the same food/cooking fix as thumbing through a beautiful, full-color, print cookbook.
So for me, the closest thing to cataloging heaven is cataloging cookbooks. As I write this post, there are beef short ribs with vegetables and herbs braising in the oven covered in red wine, beef stock, and a tomato sauce–they smell heavenly. When they come out of the oven and cool, the meat will be shredded and added back into the sauce along with hot and sweet sausage and served over rigatoni topped with grated Parmesan cheese. Add a salad and homemade garlic bread, and the meal is complete.
Last Wednesday, I was thankful for many things before the Thanksgiving holiday–family, friends, health, employment, a home, new boots, eye cream, Spanx, concealer–just to name a few. And I was also thankful that I am a cataloger who catalogs cookbooks. Someday, I would like to be someone who has written a cookbook.
When and if that happens, I hope whoever catalogs it for their local public library will be someone who is also passionate about cooking and will take the time to stop and take a look inside. And if that someone happens to be me, well, I will certainly take pleasure in that moment when cataloging and cooking collide.
But I still kind of hope it’s not me…