I added a few new goodies to my collection of #vintage cookbooks today.
People often ask me why I have kept – and continue to buy non-vegan cookbooks for my collection now that I eat only plant-based foods. I have several reasons, one of the most important being that I am a lover of storytelling. All types of storytelling.
All cookbooks tell a story. Vintage cookbooks teach us about history. So much of our lives revolve around food; and food has played a great role in the history of our society. I’m fascinated by the changes in cooking styles over the decades; in food trends and in culinary growth. For instance, The Fannie Farmer cookbook is the very first cookbook in the USA to ever use standardized measurements, and was a trailblazer for cookbooks to come. It was first written in 1896 and is still iconic to this day.
(Fannie herself is an amazing study in women in history, btw…) So while most of that book has recipes I’ll never make, its hallowed pages mark a moment in history – one that had a significant impact in my culinary journey.
Cookbooks written by journalistic publications offer great glimpses into food trends of days past. The NYT and Good Housekeeping books pictured here are from the 1950s and 60s and offer a great slice of post world war 2/baby boom Americana, which appeal to my love of 20th century North American history.
I learned to read at age three – and have been devouring books ever since. I hold university degrees in both English Literature and Communications, and have spent most of my life in a career that focuses on both reading and writing. So I guess you could say I’ve had a life-long love affair with the written word.
But all that literary stuff aside, I’m a cook. I have a passion for technique and trial and for chefs and cookbook authors and their personalities. Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, Julia Child…they are legends to me. They have taught me, inspired me, and while most of their recipes use ingredients I won’t, their approach is universal: they cook good food. And that approach applies to a vegan world as much as an omnivore’s.
My greatest personal cooking successes are omnivore dishes I’ve transformed into just-as-good (or even better) vegan ones. I didn’t give up meat or dairy because I didn’t like the taste of it; I gave it up because of how unhealthy it is for my body. Would I love a good buffalo chicken wing right now? Heck yeah. But I don’t want to eat a chicken. It’s not healthy for me, and definitely not fair to the chicken. But if Guy Fieri has a kick-ass wing sauce recipe, why wouldn’t I want to use it on a cauliflower or seitan “wing?”
So as long as good cooks inspire me with great tasting food, I’ll continue to collect their books, and rise to the challenge of “anything you can make, I can make vegan!”