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Beginning with choosing teams for third-grade Dodgeball to food blog memes, I’m accustomed to being the last one picked. But then I get tagged twice in one week! Along came my new gal-pal Meg, from Too Many Chefs, who snagged me for the cookbook meme that’s been going ’round.
Here goes….

1. Total number of cookbooks I’ve owned:
Well, er, when I moved out of San Francisco, I packed them all in boxes for storage, and there are about 18 per box. And, um, there were about 30 boxes, so that would make around 540. And that number was considerably higher before I sold a few off prior to the ‘big move’. In my petit Paris apartment, I have about 35 cookbooks.

2. Last cookbook I bought:
Fine Chocolates, Great Experience by Jean-Pierre Wybauw.
Jean-Pierre was my teacher in Belgium when I went to chocolate school at Callebaut and he’s one of the great talents in the world of chocolate. He worked deftly (and never got a drop of chocolate on him…ever) and was so patient with all his students. His book explains much about chocolate including how to make chocolates, enrobing them, and extensive information about the fabrication of chocolate. Much of it is geared towards professionals, who are distraught, since many are having a hard time finding this book in the United States.

3. Last food book I read:
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee. Harold spent 10 years updating his original book (which no one initially wanted to publish…but eventually went into 17 printings!) This book answers every question you could have about food and cooking. Every cook should have a copy of this revised edition in their library. I read it cover-to-cover.

4. Five cookbooks that mean a lot to me:
In the last meme, I mentioned food writers who I admire, so I’ll list here 5 cookbooks that I actually use for everyday cooking…

Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Shere
Naturally, I’ve made more desserts from this book than any other and my kudos were echoed by Claudia Fleming, who I considered the best pastry chef in the US while she was at Grammery Tavern in New York. She told me it was her favorite dessert book of all time.

From Tapas to Meze by Joanne Weir
This is one book that I cook from often. The Feta-Cucumber Salad is the greatest recipe, in my humble opinion, although there’s lots to choose from. I love serving all the salads and vegetables and small-dishes from the regions represented: Spain, Italy, Morocco, Lebanon, and more.

French Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Loomis
Since moving to France, this cookbook helped immensely with the transition, as I learned about French ingredients and the way food is prepared here. Interspersed are informative stories about food production across France, as well as easy-to-follow recipes from farmhouses across the countryside, where the best traditional cooking is found.

Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich
Stop snickering. Just because the desserts are low-fat, doesn’t mean they aren’t fabulous. Nobody but Alice Medrich, the chocolate-guru, could create such amazing chocolate-rich desserts with reduced amount of butter and cream but no icky ingredients. It was here I learned when you adjust the amount of fat in desserts, you let the other flavors shine through. Everything I’ve made from this book, all these desserts, are winners, and not just the chocolate ones. The Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake is moist and has rich-tasting chocolate flavor and texture, and the Apricot Vermouth Cake is exceptional too. And that lofty Chocolate Souffle!

The Zuni Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
Someday I will get around to making the justly-famous Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, but I have made many other things from this book with grand success. Judy has the rare ability to explain something like it’s never been explained before, sans the fluff. Her instructions for salt-brining have changed the way I cook; I’ve learned so much about food and cooking just leafing through this book. When Judy worked at Chez Panisse, she made me the best thing I ever ate in my life. Truly.
And you gotta love a book that starts off the dessert chapter with… “Dessert has the interesting duty of teasing out the last gasps of your appetite.”

5. Which 3 people would you most like to see fill this out in their blog?

Well, considering that last 3 people who I tagged with the previous meme aren’t speaking to me anymore, I’d better hit some ‘fresh meat’…

Lisa, aka the Amateur Gourmette

Stephanie, from Adventures of Pie Queen

The fine folks at Becks & Posh who may have already been tagged, but I like corresponding with them…so there!


    • Sam

    Ok – I am ashamed. I was one of the very first three foodbloggers to ever be tagged in this meme, when Cooking with Amy introduced it to the food community. And I still haven’t done it though I promised Amy I would. That was over a month ago. I will see what I can do, although it serves as a sad reminder that a lot of my favourites are packed in my parents attic in ENgland going all mildewy :( Thanks for the little kick up the backside, David!

    • Diva

    I don’t hate you..I have been working!!!
    Cooking in this heat is killing!
    I am doing my meme homework as we speak!

    • Amy

    The real questions is–Now that you’ve jettisoned all those cookbooks is life and cooking better or worse? I thin my collection from time to time but I fear getting down to 35 volumes would be pure agony.

    • Stephanie

    Thank you David! I love your blog, and it makes me want to come right back to Paris! I’m in SF right now, which is cool and lovely bliss after sweaty soggy Brooklyn. Will respond with my meme answers next week when I get home,
    xxx steph

    • Meg

    Woo-hoo! Sorry I didn’t comment sooner David, but I’ve been super busy lately. You are the first person to ever respond to a meme invitation I’ve posted. I was beginning to feel like everyone hates us!

    Now I just have to print out the list so that I can browse the contents of your selection next time I’m in W.H. Smith’s. I might have to leave my credit card at home as a precaution…


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