Patti (whipartist) wrote,
Patti
whipartist

Has the internet made the cookbook obsolete?

I spent a lot of time yesterday cleaning, organizing, and purging the loft. Most of it focused around two logical areas-- books and wardrobe. I did about four loads of laundry, sorted through clothes, and packed up a bunch of stuff to give to charity. I also organized and shelved a lot of books, and took a big box over to the El Cerrito book recycling place to give away. (Thanks to whoever recommended that place a while ago... it's wonderful.)

In between all my puttering and cleaning yesterday, I did some cooking. In particular, I made two dishes that required me to find and use recipes. In the first case, I googled until I found the recipe I wanted. In the second, I googled and browsed recipes, but wound up going to CooksIllustrated.com (for which I have a subscription) and using theirs.

Some of the books that I organized yesterday were cookbooks. While I'm sure my collection is relatively small compared to that of my friends, I have a couple of shelves of cookbooks that I've acquired over the years. I think I've opened a grand total of about five of them over the last year-- Joy of Cooking, the Betty Crocker cookbook, a Chinese cookbook that I'm particularly fond of, and... well, I'm sure I've used a couple more, but I wouldn't swear to it. If I'm looking for a specific recipe, the web seems like a much more useful tool than a collection of books that might or might not have what I want.

Cookbooks seem to me to fall into two categories-- utilities, and works of art. I open the Betty Crocker cookbook when I want to find a pancake recipe, and the French Laundry cookbook when I want to bask in the joy of exquisitely-prepared culinary delights. There's still plenty of room in the world for works-of-art cookbooks, of course, but what about utilitarian ones? For me, they're still useful for staple recipes, but if I want to make a specific dish, I'm much better off searching the web and picking from there.

In fact, that's it. I'm going to get rid of half my cookbooks today. El Cerrito here I come.

Edit: That was easy. It took me all of about two minutes to sort out the keepers and the goers. Mickdog, the Zuni Cafe cookbook was on my keeper list too.

Edit^2: Wow, getting rid of cookbooks feels really transgressive.
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