Monday, September 18, 2006

September 15, 2006: Books for Cooks

On the same street as Michael’s workplace is Books for Cooks, a shop devoted entirely to books (both new and second hand) about the preparation and consumption of food. I thoroughly enjoyed the 45 minutes (and $57) we spent there before it closed for the night. It was quiet, neatly arranged, and had a couple of comfortable chairs to sit in while we perused their wares.

Although I disliked them until I was about 21, I now love well-cooked mushrooms and I thought this would be just the place to find a recipe book dedicated to them. Indeed, there was a small shelf with at least a dozen mushroom themed books! As I leafed through them I was disappointed to find that most were rather meat-heavy and had only a couple of recipes that I was interested in trying. Not so "Mushrooms on the Menu”, a 1993 British book with many meat-free tapas and light lunch ideas. It’s rare for me to be enthused about a cookbook without large colour illustrations of the dishes, but this one succeeded. I’m looking forward to learning more about the various varieties, dried and fresh, cultivated and wild.

As I pored over the mushroom section, Michael was casting his eye over the multiple shelves of vegetarian and vegan books. “The Bold Vegetarian Chef” caught it (or perhaps it was the spunky salt-and-pepper pic of author Ken Charney). Again, no colour pics within, but it’s an exciting array of courses, soy, beans and grains and general tips on preparing burgers, seitan and the like.

Unable to find my other literary desire in Books for Cooks, I continued on to Readings to stuff myself: “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” by Nigella Lawson. This seems to be the ultimate document of winter comfort food, full of cakes, puddings and pies. I love the full-page colour photographs of uneven, randomly dripping food that I might just be able to recreate for myself. Although I found her mannerisms irksome on television her prose are a delight and I will probably devour this book from cover to cover before I attempt even one recipe.

A few hours after this binge, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed at the volume of new cooking inspirations in all those pages. Perhaps I should moderate my cookbook intake as I try to control my chocolate consumption.

Address: 233—235 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Ph: 8415 1415

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