During a recent book event in Paris at a local bouquiniste, I met up with Alain Huchet, who sells an extraordinary selection of vintage cookbooks, menus, and gravures, all relating to the pleasures of food and wine.
Naturally, the selection is heavily tilted toward French gastronomy, and I was a kid in a confiserie when I began rifling through the stacks of books. I’ve seen some extraordinary collections of cookbooks; including a pretty good one I left behind : (
But if I had the space to start up again (and beaucoup de euros), this is where I’d start.
Still, looking is free, and look I did. I’m a sucker for any cookbook dedicated to candymaking, baking, and the pastry arts, especially the old French ones, with their faded colored pictures of giant, dinged-up copper pots, and heavily-sugared candies lined up, glacéed and frosted within an inch (or centimeter, I should say) of their lives.
The late Bernard Loiseau lives on here, smiling from the cover, and although Brasserie Lipp has a reputation for looking at guests with a bit of disdain, if you buy the Chez Lipp book, you don’t have to worry about eating your Île Flottante on a deserted table in Left Bank Siberia.
Because of the heavy foot traffic, and the value of some of the books (of the two that I wanted, one was €300, and the other, a nifty treatise on Breton cooking, was €80), the books are wrapped to protect them from damage. If interested, just ask and M. Huchet will open any up so you can get a better look.
The stand is open daily, normally in the afternoons, weather-permitting.
Quai Conti (facing the Hôtel de la Monnaie)
The Food Bouquiniste (Secrets of Paris)
Librarie Gourmande (Gastronomic Bookstore in Paris)
Bouquinistes sur les quais de Seine: Other booksellers who specialize in cookbooks
La Cocotte: Librarie de goût (Gastronomic Bookstore in Paris)