Cooking has become democratized in recent years, thanks partly to the shrinking communication chasm between professional and home cooks. These days, we have whole television slates devoted to topics that range from poaching the perfect egg to step-by-step braised short ribs. But cooking channels are only the latest version of the home cook’s cheat sheet. Long before the Bobby Flays and Emerils of the world, there were cookbooks.
Without getting too deep into the fascinating history of handed-down recipes (you know how we feel about food history), it’s obvious that the practice is generations old. At Fante’s, we’ve been lucky to read and cook from countless titles over the years. Some read more like a family history, while others take a more regimented approach to recipe offerings. And others are simply classics. With the holiday season fast approaching, and with two upcoming author events in our store, we wanted to take a minute this week to share some of our favorites…
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Julia Child, Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle
Before she was an iconic television presence, she was one of the authors (along with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle) of this hugely popular book, which sought to bring classic techniques to the (at-the-time) bland American palate. Their undertaking resulted in numerous print runs and television series, a movie, and the odds that, if you mention the name “Julia” when talking about a recipe, it’s likely everyone knows exactly who you’re talking about.
We Called It Macaroni
Nancy Verde Barr
A delicious look at Southern Italian recipes, with a delightful personal touch of family history from the author, who served as Executive Chef to Julia Child. This book is a wonderful addition to the kitchen of any Italian food lover.
The Cake Bible
Rose Levy Beranbaum
We love baking cookbooks because of the contrast between the demand for strict adherence to recipes and the sweet, whimsical feeling you get from eating the result. The best ones make this tough task seem simple. Rose Levy Beranbaum tops the list for us with her Cake Bible, a frequently sourced title and one we recommend to our staff and customers alike.
How to Bake Bread
Speaking of accessibility, the title of Michael Kalanty’s book is about as explicit as they come. And the title doesn’t lie! With easily digestible chapters that touch on the five families of bread, Kalanty’s book is perfect for everyone from novices all the way to expert bakers.
And Now We Call It Gravy
We couldn’t put together a list that didn’t include a title from our beloved 9th Street. Sonny provides a unique glimpse into the traditions and evolution of the Italian Market in Philadelphia with this collection of recipes and stories. Sonny knows his history, too — he is also the owner of a fantastic butcher shop in the market.
This is only a starting point, of course. After over 100 years in business, we’ve been part of some great meals. You can find Beranbaum’s, Kalanty’s, and D’Angelo’s titles in our 9th Street store, along with a collection of other great cookbooks. Other titles you can get directly from the publisher.
Finally, be sure to stop by the store this Saturday for our author event with Paola Ferrario, who will be signing copies of her new book 19 Pictures, 22 Recipes.