Cookbook Pictures

Discussion in 'Cookbook Reviews' started by foodnfoto, Feb 23, 2001.

  1. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    I am interested in knowing how people make their cookbook purchasing choices. When browsing a selection of cookbooks when intending to purchase, do you judge it by the apparent quality of the recipes? by the illustrations? by the photos? or the writing?
    How do these attributes influence your choices?
    Would you buy a new cookbook that had not photos at all?
    Do you consider the recipe writing style of the author? Whose writing style do you enjoy most?
    Thanks to all who submit responses.
     
  2. anneke

    anneke

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    There are books that I buy for cooking and there are others that I buy for viewing. As I develop my culinary skill I find that I need fewer pictures but I still enjoy them. There are so many cookbooks at the bookstore these days that inevitably your eye will be drawn to beautiful covers. So even though I might pick up a pretty cover first I'll probably buy the one that has better recipes.

    I like books with lots of info about ingredients: how to chose them,where they are from, techniques, variations, menu suggestions etc. That's why to this day I still consult with Julia Child regularly. SHe has tons of pictures in her books but they aren't just pretty pictures, they are useful pictures. I also like the Dean & Deluca book for thorough info.

    As for books for pleasure, I love Lorenza DeMedici's books. Her books are minimalistic on the recipe side but have lavish photos of Italy: the countryside, beautiful mansions, exquisite menu presentations etc. To say that I never cooked with her books would be a lie: she taught me how to make a proper risotto.

    I also have a 3rd type in my book collection. Everywhere that I travel I like to pick up at least one cookbook. Most aren't all that useful because you almost always need local ingredients to make the recipes but I love them anyway because they are - in a way - a short history lesson of the region.

    Sorry to be so long winded.. ;)
     
  3. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    The more long-winded the better, Anneke. Thanks for your input.
    I also pick up local cookbooks from places that I travel to. I especially like cookbooks by Junior League members and faith-based organizations. They give a real sense of the region's particular cuisine.
     
  4. seattledeb

    seattledeb

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    It depends...all my choices are varied. I have a collection of junior league books for down home regional choices, for ethnic recipes I like cookbooks with pictures and ingredient info, for baking pictures aren't as necessary as detailed instruction and insight (I really like the King Arthur Flour anniversary cookbook), I like cookbooks from famous chefs with their recipes and how they got into the business and their particular style. A few years ago, I would've said if it didn't have pictures, I didn't want it. But as I learn more, I want more theory -- and instruction.
     
  5. layjo

    layjo

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    There are different factors I look for in books like many other people here. I'll usually go to the bookstore and look for a book of a particular cuisine and I examine it to see how the author writes and what type of info they give in their book...I like history, so if they give a little history of the recipe I tend to like that type of book...it gives me a better idea of how the recipe or method came about! As far as pictures go, I like pictures. If you have never attempted that certain recipe or method the picture at least helps you to recognize how the author ment the recipe to turn out... then you can make adjustments if you need to or want to. I like books like the "Art Of Cooking" by Jacques Pepin. I the two volume set he shows step by step some classic and variations on classic French preparations. When an author strives to give the best overall detail in their writing and have other aids such as photos and illustrations you get a feeling that the book is worth using and taking in as part of your knowlege!

    [ February 25, 2001: Message edited by: Layjo ]
     
  6. lorib

    lorib

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    I LOVE pictures! Since I can't possibly make or eat everything in all the books I have and look at, I "eat" the pictures!

    One of my current favorites is Nick Malgieri's Chocolate. Not only has everything I've made from it come out beautifully, I love the way the book is put together. The quality of the paper is rich, I just love handling it and have been super careful not to "dirty it up". Julia Child's recent books are also great in that respect, though I find the recipe within a recipe cumbersome for everyday experimentation.

    Certain authors do such a great job that I will buy anything they put out - Nick Malgieri is one of them. I love Nancy Silverton's books, but I realy wish I could eat some pictures.
     
  7. seattledeb

    seattledeb

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    I agree Lori, some pictures are good enough to eat (and think of the calories saved by just reading). I just bought this great greek cookbook....and for me, the pictures are important for presentation, appeal, techniques, as well as learning more about the area and the history.
     
  8. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Though many of my cookbooks have pictures, most of my books do not or only have a few pictures. I prefer that the authors use that space to add more recipes. Pictures aren't bad, especially if they are showing a technique, but I am not a big fan of seeing what the end product looks like. Usually it is next to impossible to get your food to look like the food in the picture. Food stylists use many techniques for making food look great on film. Some tricks they use are: cooking pasta only half-way, using shellac to make foods shiny, using shortening in place of whipped cream and ice cream, creating artifical char lines on steaks for that perfect look, and all sorts of ways and devices to make food stand tall. So be inspired by the pictures but don't worry if your food doesn't come out the way it looks in the books. Even Charlie Trotter (whose food is beautiful) can't make his food, at the restaurant, look as good as in his books.
     
  9. davewarne

    davewarne

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    I love lots of pictures and I suppose I knew that the food had been 'constructed' to look like it does. It's also the case that, say, 3 dozen pastries will be made to produce one for the photograph. No one can compete with this in a commercial restaurant environment. Sadly my/our customers are constantly exposed to 'artistic' food in store magazines, House and Garden and on T.V. cookery programs. They arrive in the restaurant expecting it to be just the same. It can't be done. In the U.K. cookery seems to have become a consumer disease. T.V. chefs abound and some of the output is almost slapstick comedy. I often get asked why I'm not on T.V. I reply that I prefer to cook food not play at it.
     
  10. lorib

    lorib

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    I have found that I will try out recipes that I can see a picture of far more frequently than ones without the picture. If it turns out well, I will be encouraged to delve further into the book and try others. The pictures of "fluff" though are wasted space - the colorful still lifes. I want to see the product.
     
  11. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    HMMMMM interesting thread....I go both ways.
    Martha Stewarts Hdo book is an incredible wealth of pix and they are wonderful to spring board off of, I need good presentation ideas and these pix do that.

    To learn a new technique it is helpful for me to see it....and actually be able to ask questions but definately if a book can show you different steps then it's more useful.

    My day in day out recipes are from books with NO PIX or FEW. But it took years to KNOW what different terms meant.

    As a child/beginner I needed pix, it was helpful when the written words didn't quite convey the finished dish.

    Time-Life series started my food adventure, they have gorgeous pix both of food and the area the book represents.
     
  12. pooh

    pooh

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    I'm with Shroom on this thread!

    My very first books were from "The Good Cook" series from Time-Life. Got them by mail, 1 per month. Have a total of 28...think it's the whole series. Still use that series frequently and get inspired by the pix.

    Don't you love Martha Stewart's Book of Hors d'Oeuvres. Makes me wish I could eat off the page. And her recipes and darn accurate too! Tested to death I'm sure!

    I like a combination of good pictures and good writing! The best of both worlds isn't it! :p
     
  13. pastachef

    pastachef

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    I buy a lot of cookbooks that have beautiful illustrations. That way I can see if the recipe has worked for me. Presentation means as much to me as taste :)
     
  14. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    A few months ago I wanted to learn breadmaking. After looking at Magliere's book on baking I put the tome back on the shelf and resigned. Too volumnous for a beginner. The next day I received from my sister ULTIMATE BREAD by Treuille and Ferrigno. It had plenty of informative photos and all the bread recipes are similar: only involving about 3 cups of flour each. Simple. The book is only about 100-150 pages long and, again, with lots of photos. Just enough to whet this simpleton's appetite for instructive breadmaking. I'd definitely recommend it for the beginner. ;) ;) ;)

    [ May 04, 2001: Message edited by: kokopuffs ]
     
  15. pooh

    pooh

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    That is such a good point Kokopuffs!

    I haven't seen the book. Are there clear illustrations that allow you to SHAPE YOUR LOAVES PROPERLY?

    If so, it's the next best thing to taking classes. That's how I started making bread as well!

    :cool:
     
  16. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Yes, Pooh. A couple pages of photos are devoted to loaf shaping. Other photos are dedicated to showing the different wheat and nonwheat grains; types of yeasts, utensils as well as techniques of kneading, mixing and slashing. Many photos are of the final product. :eek: :cool: :eek:

    [ May 04, 2001: Message edited by: kokopuffs ]
     
  17. pooh

    pooh

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    Great book, Kokopuffs!

    PBS is showing re-runs of Baking with Julia. She had many bread bakers on the show. Tape them then practice. That's fun too!

    [ May 04, 2001: Message edited by: pooh ]
     
  18. svadhisthana

    svadhisthana

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    Excellent Question!!!
    All of the above. I've been cooking since I was 8 but I am defintely still learning. I love to see photographs of deserts, or recipes that I have never prepared before. I also enjoy have illustrations for prep. work, like de-boning a chicken breast, or the proper technique for cutting certain vegetables. I have several cook-books with no pictures in them but, most have a sprinkling thru out. I love cook-books that are so useful that they have food stains and sticky pages from use(How To Cook Everything) and also books that can be displayed on the coffee table(Intercourses)
    I hope that answered your question.
    Svadhisthana

    p.s. I also take friends recomendations into consideration as well. :D :D :D
     
  19. svadhisthana

    svadhisthana

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    I almost forgot........
    NUTRITION INFORMATION

    that is VERY important for me as well.

    Svadhisthana

    [ May 10, 2001: Message edited by: Svadhisthana ]