THE KITCHEN REFERENCE BOOK
A kitchen reference book has a
lot of recipes, but it's much more than an ordinary
cookbook. It's the how to of cooking. Most recipes are
variations on a theme. The reference book is where you
get the basic foundations to build on, and learn cooking
Let's take a look at the three most popular:
Larousse Gastronomique,The New American Edition, Prosper Montagne, Jenifer Harvey Lang, 1988 Crown
1193 pages, $48
The new American edition is a short version of the original. This used to be the authoritative tome on cooking when the French methods still dominated the American gourmet scene, and gives fascinating information on the history and curiosities of cooking. It might appear a bit outdated since the advent of fusion cooking, and doesn't feature ethnic recipes. My advice is to find an old copy of this at a used bookstore for two to ten dollars and browse it on rainy days. It's been in print since 1931, so old copies aren't difficult to find.
The Joy of Cooking,Irma S.Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker, 1997 Simon and Schuster
1136 pages, $28
The 1997 edition was heavily revised to update the old version from the 1930s. This has long been the most popular kitchen reference book, and it now includes a good quantity of fusion recipes. In "About Coffee" there are six pages on bean differences, storing, grinding, and brewing techniques. For lots and lots of recipes, the basics of cuisine techniques, and the details on ingredients, this is a good buy.
How to Cook Everything,Mark Bittman, 1998 Macmillan
944 pages, $24
Larger print and a more modern design make this an easier book to read than the other two. It doesn't have the volume of information or the variety of recipes, but it does give the basics in an interesting and very usable format. Variations are given from the basic recipes. The basic Sauteed Chicken Cutlets easily leads to six other dishes. There are separate chapters for equipment, techniques, and glossary. Check out the exciting Chicken Under a Rock recipe. This is a good starter reference book.
2006 Bloomington Web Guide
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