What Is The Most Essential Book?

Discussion in 'Cookbook Reviews' started by jte1130, Jul 9, 2005.

  1. jte1130

    jte1130

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    What book would you consider most essential for a home cook? Would it be Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia? Or another choice?
     
  2. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't know that I would consider Larousse to be the essential book for a home cook. Lots of info in there that a home cook would never use. My vote would have to be for "The Joy of Cooking". It's a well rounded book, with recipes for most every dish that I consider a home cook should know. And earlier editions have a great chapter on canning and preserving.
     
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  3. miahoyhoy

    miahoyhoy

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    Yep for the home cook larousse is way overkill.
    Joy of cooking or the fannie farmer cookbook.
     
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  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    In a single book, Joy of Cooking. For a series, Best Recipes from Cook's Illustrated.

    Phil
     
  5. redace1960

    redace1960

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    another vote for Joy c.1972-5. i don't think Larousse is so terribly overkill for a home cook, though. 'home' doesn't necessarily mean 'possum on the woodstove with laura ingalls-and 'cook' doesn't necessarily mean unadventurous, unread and limited to opening boxes. for example, since y'all folks turned me on to Escoffier (thanks, keeperofthegood!) i can't do without it.
     
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  6. mudbug

    mudbug

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    Key words being home cook. Definitely The Joy of Cooking - yet another vote of confirmation.
     
  7. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I never said that a home cook wouldn't benefit from Larousse, I just think that "Joy" would get a ton more use. And it definately contains many more recipes that a home cook would need than Larousse ever would.
     
  8. jte1130

    jte1130

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    I only threw Larousse out there because I thought it was a thorough, all-encompassing book. I'm not really familiar with its contents.

    Seems like "Joy" is the way to go.

    I guess I was just looking for something that gives more than just recipes. Sort of explanations of different cuts of meat, uses and types of spices, etc. More of a basic understanding of cooking in addition to just having recipes.

    Thanks for all of your input though.
     
  9. panini

    panini

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    JOC Fanny Farmer vote
    If you ever decide to go pro. throw them away and replace them with a bible
     
  10. redace1960

    redace1960

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    phatch-good call!-americas test kitchen! didnt even occur to me.
    pete and mudbug-you have a point. now that i think about it i wouldnt give larousse or escoffier as a wedding gift.
     
  11. panini

    panini

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    hey! don't give up the possum :D That bugger is hard to get in and hard to get out of the pot.
    Some of the most esquisite foods I have ever eaten have been made at home. I guarantee there is some sort of tied beef or fowl hanging in our uncle's fireplace in France right now, turning slowly.
     
  12. ricib

    ricib

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    The "average Joe or Jo" as the case may be, will have much better success with the Joy of Cooking or Fannie Farmer than anything else. I can't honestly think of anyone I know that even remotely likes to cook, that doesn't have the Joy of Cooking on their shelf.

    While it wasn't my first cookbook, it's one that I regard as one fo the best ever in a collection of hundreds.
     
  13. jock

    jock

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    Joy of Cooking was my first book (1975 edition) and although I refer to it less now than earlier in my career as an amateur cook it still has pride of place in my collection.

    Another good beginner book is Madeline Kamman's Making of a Cook.

    Jock
     
  14. bubbamom

    bubbamom

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    I'd give my vote to the Settlement Cookbook - it has everything a home cook needs from making soap :D to canning and freezing!
     
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  15. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Even professionally I use Joy of Cooking as the proportion template in many cases and adapt....that's how the pecan meal jelly roll or the sweet potato jelly roll were adapted from plain old jelly roll. I've gotten rid of the newest Joy....it did not EVEN have lemon bars!!!!
     
  16. knightdo

    knightdo

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    For recipes: Best Recipes from Cook's Illustrated or anything from these thorough Brookliners. Although Joy started me down the path; love it.
    For fun: Steingarten
    For not-so-fun but knowledge: Mcghee
    For depth and passion: Brillat-Savarin & anything by Ed Behr.
    For a pro: French I, II, and III

    For a home cook, Mcghee will make you dangerously knowledgable and Cooks Illustrated will save you time.

    Cheers,
    Knightdo
     
  17. dean

    dean

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    If you can get it cooks companion by Stephanie Alexander is a must have!!
     
  18. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Most essential for what? for whom? :look:
     
  19. cathy stapleton

    cathy stapleton

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    I would make my vote for The Joy of Cooking, with the exception that I'm not all that wild about the newest version of it - it's gone a bit too "high-brow". My mother learned to cook by it, and both my sisters and I learned from it and my mother.

    Honourable mention definately goes to Julia Child's The Way To Cook.

    Another extremely good all purpose cookbook is the currently out-of-print, The American-International Encyclopedic Cookbook by Anne London. It's just chock-a-block full of very detailed information and has the flavour of a cooking-school text.
     
  20. mikelm

    mikelm

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    Yep, "Joy of Cooking" is the Encyclopedia Britannica of the kitchen. First published in 1931; we have the 1964 edition, which is about to disintegrate. I have the impression later, recent editions are not so well regarded, but no direct experience with these. Everything you need to know is in it.

    HOWEVER, my number two pick is "James Beard's American Cookery". We have the 1972 first edition, also falling apart from constant use. It is completely exhaustive (how's that for redundancy!) and offers one of the best cookbook indexes I have ever seen.

    Mike