Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Buying Books at the Library

One of the great advantages of having an espresso bar located inside a library is the incredible amount of resources just a few steps away. Need to research current law or look up words in Croatian? They've got the texts. Maybe the plumbing has been getting wonky and you need to know how to re-plumb the espresso machine? No problem. Getting sued for inappropriate conduct and need to work up a defense? Check that too.

The best part for is the library's sizable collection of food-related books and cookbooks. Need to reference Diana Kennedy? She's in there. Want to peruse Robouchon? He's hanging out in aisle nine. From the simple (Rachael Ray) to the fancy (Jacques Pepin) to the classic (Julia Child) to the mundane (Padma Lakshmi), the library has got it.

Even when I need to reference some of my own cherished tomes, like Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook or Grant Achatz's Alinea, they've got those too.

But, every once in a while, the library goes through its' collection and weeds out the books that aren't circulating enough. And while this can be a boon to the collector, it also means that my reference material is constantly at some level of jeopardy. To combat this, I routinely check out and return my favorite tomes just to keep them circulating and off the chopping block.

Then there's days like today when the library has gone through its' stacks, chopped a number of books, withdrawn them from the collection and put them up for public sale. Hopefully I'm there to swoop in on the deals and just go crazy. Good thing I scheduled myself to close and was able to obtain the following:

In Pursuit of Flavor - Edna Lewis
I Love Crab Cakes! - Tom Douglas
Burgers - Rebecca Bent
Cooking with Faith - Faith Ford
Uncle Bubba's Savannah Seafood - Earl "Bubba" Hiers
Cheese, Glorious Cheese! - Paula Lambert
In a Vermont Kitchen - Lyon & Andreen
A Great American Cook - Jonathan Waxman
The New American Cooking - Joan Nathan
Liquid Mexico - Youman & Estep
Race Day Grub - Angela Skinner
The Palm Restaurant Cookbook - Legere Binns
The Perfect Recipe - Pam Anderson
American Home Cooking - Cheryl & Bill Jamison
Cooking One On One - John Ash
Rosa's New Mexican Table - Robert Santibanez
Emeril's Delmonico - Emeril Lagasse
The New California Cook - Diane Worthington

While perhaps not all of them are classic tomes like The French Laundry Cookbook, there's definitely some solid cookery going on in a number of them. I'm especially looking forward to reading more Edna Lewis and Jonathan Waxman.

Friends often ask me why I have such a large collection of books. How can I possibly cook my way through all of them. Truth be told, I hardly cook the recipes in any of them. I use the books as springboards for ideas and utilize their thoughts to help shape my own. There's lots to learn about flavors from any of these books - even the ones that seem quite pedestrian (like Race Day Grub) offer insight in the flavor palates of the average consumer who, in turn, tend to be our largest clientele base. The quest lies in how to offer top quality and interesting ingredients to these people without completely jumping the shark in terms of their palates.

And all of those books for merely eighteen dollars...

I'll report later as I discover more.