Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cookbook Meme

My friend Dilek tagged me for a Cookbook meme last week. Here are the questions and my answers:

Total number of cookbooks I own:

I have a lot of cookbooks. Many were self-bought, others were gifts or inherited. I especially like the ones passed on to me by friends with telltale signs of use on their pages and scribbled notes next to the recipes. I keep the ones I use frequently in my kitchen. I counted and there are exactly 35 of them. Then there are the ones in the attic and the downstairs kitchen closet. I do not know how many books I have in those places, but doubling the number I gave would be a conservative estimate.

Last cookbooks I bought:

Recently I received a generous birthday gift from my sister-in-law Fatima (who happens to be a contributor to this blog) which I spent entirely on cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. I bought 4 new dessert cookbooks: Death by Chocolate and Celebrate with Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers, Finest Desserts by Michel Roux and Simply Sensational Desserts by Francois Payard. Thank you, Fatima!

Last food/cook book I read:

In addition to the 4 listed above, I am reading LaVarenne Pratique by Anne Willan. This was a gift from a friend who owned a restaurant, but had to stop working because of health reasons. It has many precious handwritten notes of the kind I mentioned above, is very informative and actually entertaining to read. I had this book for years but since it was borrowed by another friend for a long time, I almost forgot about it. Now that it is back, it almost feels like reading a new book.

Five (cook) books that mean a lot to me:

I have many cookbooks that I love, but the one that means a lot to me has to be the Complete Book of Turkish Cooking by Ayla Esen Algar. When I came to USA as a student many years ago, I did not know much about cooking. As difficult as it is to imagine now, there was no Internet or food blogs, either. Luckily, I was surrounded with people who were excellent cooks and I found this book. It had all the recipes that a young, homesick Turkish girl could ever wish for to ease her pain of being so far away from home for the first time. It was very reliable, well-written and just to skim through its pages to look at its lovely pictures made me feel better. I only wish I had bought a hardcover then. After years of service, it is now in pieces. I could of course buy a new one, but I cannot find it in my heart to replace it since we have been through a lot together. When my daughter Zeynep learns about book binding in her senior year, I will ask her to give this book the proper cover it deserves.

The second book that means a lot to me is Rose Beranbaum's Cake Bible. I know that this book is too much for some, but her detailed and structured approach appeals to the hidden scientist in me. The lookup tables for wedding cakes were enormously useful to me the few times I baked big cakes for friends. In fact, I do not know how I could have done it if it were not for this book. I learnt a lot from Rose, and still continue to do so everytime I read this book.

The third place goes to Alice Medrich's Cocolat. This book has excellent recipes and Alice's desserts look so perfect in the pictures! Although I never achieved to make them as good as in the pictures, everything I made from this book got rave reviews.

The fourth book is Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme. This is one of my recent cookbook purchases. Although some of his taste combinations are a bit unusual for me (just by reading), I truly admire his genius and I already have a long list of recipes that I would like to try from this book.

The fifth book is Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow. I've obviously never met Ms. Bigelow, and this is not one of those cookbooks that the writer talks at length about her life and experiences; but I feel like I know her a little after reading Pure Chocolate and I like this person I got to know. Her eagerness to share her knowledge and her pure and not-too-flashy style just appeal to me. However, I must add that I did not try many recipes from this book yet.

Which five people would you like to see fill this out in their blogs?

I would rather not limit myself to 5 people. Those of you who would like to answer the same questions, consider yourselves tagged. Please drop a comment if you do so.