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The Art of Reading and Everything At Hand to Make It More Enjoyable --

     Highly-desirable vintage and modern books,accessories and art

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a selection of the very best vintage books & authors

Filtering by Tag: 1980s

The Most Beautiful Vintage Cookbook in My Collection: Charlie Trotter's

S.A.

nullCharlie Trotter's (1994) is one spectacular cookbook - in fact, the most beautiful in my entire vintage cookbook collection. Although just a few years short of what is now considered "vintage" (the 1980s), this cookbook, as it ages, will likely still reign supreme among the most beautiful. It is that gorge. Charlie Trotter's Cookbook

Lest you think I don't know what I'm talking about, let me say I've been collecting and selling cookbooks (older and newer) for decades. Among them, Julia Child First Editions, the vaunted early Larousse, the ever-popular Vincent Price cooking volume (A Treasury of Great Recipes), early Betty Crocker books, and so on. Over the years, I've developed an eye for food beauty, even if I lean mightily towards the 1940s graphics (both illustrated and photographed) in cookbooks of that era.

Over the years, within my own collection, I've developed a sub-genre: artist cookbooks. These include recipes from Georgia O'Keeffe, Monet and Picasso, artist anthology cookbooks, and so on. But given all of the cookbooks I've bought, sold and am now selling, I have to say, I never saw a cookbook as beautiful as Charlie Trotters. Please consider  this  my homage.

The esteemed chef, Charlie Trotter, closed his Chicago townhouse-restaurant in 2012 and is now presumed off globe-trotting and/or studying philosophy. But 16 years before he shuttered his name-sake restaurant, photographer Tim Turner turned 72 of his favorite dishes into works-of-art in this book. Take a look:

If wishes were dishes--

Rabbit & Braised Turnip Lasagna with Sweet Pea Sauce

Nominated at least 5 times for a James Beard award for food photography, Turner elevated Trotter's food masterpieces into four-color plates worthy of framing (at least, I think so. but, mais non, I would not).

If you are a foodie, Hunt high & low for this book, as it is likely to grow in esteem. It's a treasure.

The Culinary Artist's Just Desserts: A Study in Apricot

The Great American Writer's Cookbook: Ray Bradbury, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates

S.A.

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Image As the old saying goes, "Writers write," and, so I suppose, Cookers cook, and some times they do both. When I'm in the mood for a laugh or even a self-indulgent "I can do better than that," I turn to one of my most-treasured books: The Great American Writers' Cookbook. 

Inside this 1981 spiral-bound beauty are 200 "recipes" from 175 writers, including those alive back then, and those not (Ernest Hemingway, for one). The recipes range from Appetizers and Beverages to Soups, Stews, Meats, Poultry & Game, Seafood, Eggs & Pasta, Vegetables, Breads & Cereals and (as all's well that ends well )- Desserts. The 221-page book has an introduction by Craig Claiborne, which gives it legitimacy as an authentic cookbook, since he was both writer and chef. Although some recipes are more legitimate than others.

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Take, for example, Joyce Carol Oates' recipe for "The Career Woman's Meal" - "1 Campbell Soup can (any variety), 1 can-opener, 1 saucepan, 1 can water, 2 soup bowls". (and now you can see why I laughed). And how about Allen Ginsberg's "Mushrooms & Steak Pork Fish Etc Broiled"? He writes, "Whenever you broil a meat, etc. scatter a dozen mushrooms in,  5-6-7 minutes before the cooking's done. The mushrooms retain their juice but are dry-broiled outside." I think this recipe is a Howl - or, at least, a Hoot.

Speaking of Mushrooms, one of the more complex recipes contained herein is from Norman Mailer :"Stuffed Mushrooms." This is a five-paragraph recipe, longer than I am allowed to quote in a blog, but if you would like more description, please consult your Larousse, as Mailer's Mushrooms are a derivative of recipes in that venerable French cookbook.

Lest I leave you with the wrong opinion, there are, however, some fine recipes from other writers, including Tom Wolfe, who offers up his "Ten O'Clock Compote" (a breakfast dish) and Katherine Anne Porter's "Variation On My Feesh Deesh." (8 raw lobster tails, a pound of raw shrimp and a pound of raw scallops to start).

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Although I've owned and coveted this book for more than a few decades, if I didn't own it, I I'd surely want it -  for one recipe alone: Hunter S. Thompson's "Open Face Cigarette Special Hot and Cold Sandwich With Artichoke Appetizer." This recipe is even longer than Mailer's, with a step-by-step guide to creating it, including "Drink good whiskey while boiling artichoke and frying bacon"... and so on. I suppose a glass or two of good whiskey might well pave the way for Dr. Thompson's finished dish, which consists of ingredients like cold cottage cheese, a can of Orega green chilis and toasted dill rye bread, among others.

Perhaps I've whetted your appetite for the recipes, including one from the late Ernest Hemingway (it's a cocktail, natch) and, likewise, for those from William Faulkner and F. Scott Figzgerald. (Hint: none of the three required a stove).

In the long run, all of these recipes  have something to say about what writers put in their mouths when they weren't writing, or even when they were.

Cheers for a vintage cookbook, like this,  that can make our mouths water - for all the right reasons