Cookbook Reviewers Question??

Discussion in 'Cookbook Reviews' started by cakerookie, May 13, 2006.

  1. cakerookie

    cakerookie

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    I know there are a lot of you who do cookbook reviews. My question is do you actually buy all the books you review? Or do you have alternative methods that you use? Do you follow a set of guidelines? Just curious.:D

    Regards Cakerookie...
     
  2. culinarymd

    culinarymd

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    Hey Cakercookie,
    To answer your question, I always buy what I review. It kind of gives me a sense of ownership. Right now I'm reading "Bread" "the breads of the world and how to bake them at home" by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter. The first part gives a history of bread. Then the second part has recipes for making breads from all sorts of countries.
     
  3. mikeb

    mikeb

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    Every book I've 'reviewed' was one I've bought. I've got a pretty expensive collection these days (most are worth 100-360 dollars per book), not to mention many are rare (ie. not available in N. America) but books are well worth the cost - the information they contain is invaluable, not to mention you can keep them forever... Of course, I also love reading so the cost means nothing to me anyway.

    As far as a set of guidelines, I just give my professional opinion, I don't have any real guidelines I follow.
     
  4. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Books that I have reviewed here, on the forums, and others that I have written, informally, are usually from the collection of books that I have bought over the years. In instances where I have been asked to review a certain book, it is usually sent to me to review. For budding writers, like myself that usually don't get paid, oftentimes we get to keep the book we review as a "form" of payment. Since it is not the publishers handing me the book directly I feel no obligation towards them to give a favorable review, though I rarely find a book without any redeeming qualities.

    As for guidelines, it is really difficult to develop hard and fast rules to follow as cookbooks come in an endless variety of catagories and styles. Basically I try to figure out what the author is trying to do, the audience he is trying to attract, and the knowledge he conveys. I then judge a book by what the author is trying to achieve. Of course I want the information and facts to be correct and I want recipes that are concise and accurate. Beyond that, it is hard to pin down, as a cookbook written for professionals will be very different than those written for the home cook just as "The Joy of Cooking" is a very different book than Thomas Keller's "French Laundry". One is a very utilitarian cookbook. The other is as much as story about Keller's journey as a cook as it is a cookbook, IMO.
     
  5. cakerookie

    cakerookie

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    Is a cookbook reviewer required to be a chef? Or does it matter?

    Regards Cakerookie....
     
  6. diane

    diane

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    I have never reviewed a cook book except to recommend it others as a 'must have'. A local chef/cook prblished one recently, I secured a copy. The content was excellent, The photography was a little blocky for me, perhaps a little avante guarde(Sp). But very good. The only crit. would be the printing is too small. Old eyes here.

    We are all critics one way or another. I would never shell out $s for something I had not thoughly examined. I bought that one because it was local, and I wanted to pore over it. And had to. Not that I regret it. The author I do personally loath, but the book is a benefit to my library, and I hope the excellence continues with other publications. But bigger print. That was NOT a review.
     
  7. diane

    diane

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    And an afterthought. Cook books, generally are produced to be sold to the masses. They can therefore contain no hint of culinary snobbery. Which some do. The producers of text books never bother with such nonsense, they are secure in their knowledge and have no need of it. Which gives every person who bought a 'popular' book the right to critique as they find the urge to do so, on their reading and the content that gives success or failure.

    PS. The authors of books are in trembling hope you will buy. It may even be necessary to their wellbeing. It's all about Money Honey.
     
  8. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Many of the people who review cookbooks for newspapers, magazines, etc. are not chefs. I think it helps to, at least, have a good grasp of things culinary, but it is not required. I don't know of any industry "standard" that requires a reviewer of cookbooks to be a chef.
     
  9. cakerookie

    cakerookie

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    Thanks Pete and to all of you. You have been a great help.

    Regards Cakerookie....
     
  10. culinarymd

    culinarymd

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    You're welcome Cakerookie. I am just an Army cook. Although I don't have the culinary expertise of all the chefs here, I still have a grasp of things culinary.