I love my local library and when I popped in on Sunday I managed to get Yotam Ottoleghi and Ramael Scully’s Nopi and Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite by Gizzi Erskine. They are both beautiful books with stunning pictures of delicious looking food. I spent a really long time leafing through and drooling. Then I closed both books and went for a run. As I was running I suspected that looking and admiring the pictures of the books isn’t the whole point of them.
The whole point of them must be to get people cooking, and preferably cooking recipes found in the book. I am not a very good cook but I am an excellent recipe follower but even then I am very happy looking at the pretty pictures and pretending there is actual food in front of me that I can eat.
Last week / last month / some point in the distance past I read an article on how cookbooks were becoming coffee table books and the author wondered if this was a bad thing or not. I had to reread that bit again because how can it ever be a bad thing? Cookbooks have redefined themselves so much even since my childhood when they were boring and the images inside dull. They have managed to stay relevant and bought in huge numbers. Does it really matter why people are buying them? Really and truly? I buy and borrow cookbooks with the intention of looking at them. If I cook from them then it’s an added bonus. Plus as they are so beautiful and of such a high quality I go out of my way to make sure not a drop of food or dirt touches them – and it’s hard to cook when you are this paranoid.
Of course I love eating the food but there is only so much familial pressure I can put on various members before I actually have to get my butt into the kitchen and start pulling ingredients out of various cupboards and the fridge. And when I do get in the kitchen making an epic sandwich or a very tasty bowl of porridge or cutting up a nectarine is always the easier option.
I don’t mind and I will never mind cookbooks becoming items of beauty rather than items of functionality because that I can get from the internet. And even then recreating beautiful pictures be damned, I rather just have some bread and an apple.