Cookbook Keepers: Page 5

Cookbook buys seldom travel. Two fates await a cookbook.
It reposes on a collector's shelf, or, it becomes part of an estate and handed down to next-of-kin.

Keeper Arnett Howard
Musician, Author, Music Historian
Panelist: Cookbook-Keepers Seminars
Ohio's Envoy to Jamaica

Columbus, Ohio

Keeper Howard, while born in Yankee country, West Virginia, and raised, educated and cheered for his musical accomplishments in Ohio, is a major booster for all things Jamaican ...the music, the food, the sunsets, the smoked marlin, the rum. reggae and resort everything.

Some folk safari. Arnett does coffee. Envoy Howard targets a Jamaican-only coffee bean as prime reason for his island affection... "the Blue Mountains are as close to heaven as I've been...one visit was to meet Gordon Langford...his company, Langford Brothers, has thirty acres of coffee they raise in the Blue Mountains and we talked coffee, ate the beans, drank the fresh roast, had coffee desserts and closed with coffee liqueurs..."

Arnett Howard is a repeat visitor, possibly drawn to the sun and sand worship of seven miles of white sand Negril beach. Proximity to Blue Mountain coffee and curried goat may have influenced this choice as his favorite cookbook...

His Fave Keeper:
Authentic Recipes from Jamaica
Recipes and text by John DeMers
Additional essays by Norma Benghiat

Photography by Eduardo Fuss
Published by Periplus Editions
World distribution by Tuttle Publishing
c 2005

In the hemisphere of north and south America, there are two locales that draw beginning food writers: New Orleans and Jamaica. In the last century it seemed every other Big Easy tourist came away with a portable typewriter and intent to put purloined recipes to paper. Creole was something new to Maude and Roscoe when they returned to Fargo, or some such frozen tundra. Their one-stop Po Boy and crawfish gumbo recipe may find ink when their church publishes a charity collection. Beyond that...well, you get the picture.

Early in this fresh century the same is taking place for tourists exiting Jamaica. Google for numbers of Jamaican cookbooks - 500,000-plus results. Non-Jamaicans with a laptop and return airfare all fly over or around Cuban airspace keyboarding notes about being near Blue Mountain, drinking Red Stripe lager and the mango chutney in their first and only time for smoked marlin salad. So much for touristy Jamaican.

Meet the pros: DeMers, Benghiat and Fuss....

The jacket copy is as succinct as to what is inside on those 112 pages: Create the best of Jamaican flavors -- Ackee and Saltfish, Pepperpot, Smoked Marlin Salad, Jerk Pork or Chicken and Callaloo Quiche -- using the easy-to-follow recipes featured in this book.

Trumpet Man Arnett Howard, right, blows some cool during his jamming at the Tree House in Jamaica...
Jamaica is a lush island with five centuries of jangled cultures that, as of today, survived privateers, slavery, trashy tourists, pot turf wars, earthquakes, diseases brought in by invaders, Spanish colonization (1509-1655) and the British (1655-1962). Over the decades since the 1940s woozy tourists from the States returned with muddled recipes of what they experienced during quick visits to a Caribbean island impaired somewhat by cheap street rum. American troops stationed in Jamaica during World War II were mostly Signal Corps personnel. They staffed radio and weather stations and patronized rum peddlers who sold pours from jugs...pours into GI canteens. Dime pours were available on every Kingston corner. But, to digress...

At last, that muddled mass of wonderful raw food product has been brought under control. Welcome to New Orleans food writer John DeMers in concert with photographer Eduado Fuss. They are not tourists when it comes to Jamaica. DeMers is a heavily credentialed food writer -- 13 books worth. Fuss film credits range from The New York Times and Smithsonian to travel shoots for food related magazines. Studies of food styling and photography, in this case by a highly skilled newspaper shooter, says Fuss work in this book is the finest he's ever judged.
Arnett Howard before he was old enough to drink coffee, toot the trumpet or run for mayor of Columbus...
Possibly, one may add, because he was shooting in a lush land with the most to offer when it comes to light, color, shape and variety. Ah, Jamaica...

Ramona Moon
Panelist: Keepers Seminar

Rare Books Researcher
Educator, Newspaper Columnist
Marin, CA

Keeper Moon prefers to collect cookbooks that found their way from estates to used book stores. They are even better finds if they have been autographed by a gift giver to a friend.

This is one of her favorites:
The Gourmet Cookbook, 1951
Published by Gourmet,
The Magazine of Good Living
Leather Bound

Trade description calls it a "great vintage hard cover cookbook many French receipes (*) and that it rates as a collector's piece. Being published in the 1950s it has many color photographs "that are helpful in the final preperation of the receipes (sic)."

The first chapter relates to Earle R. MacAusland, the mind with an idea for a food magazine. That was in the late 1930s when the world was being distracted by a German troublemaker named Adolph Hitler.

MacAusland brought together talents who could relate to a broad concept, to edit a new magazine on gastronomy. Again, war was a problem. But his collected art and food folk in 1940 unveiled the first issue of Gourmet Magazine. Mr. Mac bossed the magazine for 40 years. During those years it dominated not only changing cuisine interests, part of the acceptance related to stories on hunting and fishing, travel, New York theater reviews, even cartoons and light verse.

This first issue of a bound cookbook was a sensation. The name has been reissued through the years. There are several editions of The Gourmet Cookbook, all of the recent ones of the 2000-plus years edited by Ruth Reichl. And therein is the sad Gourmet story. When the magazine experienced a few bad years, the publisher solved those problems by bringing in the nation's top food writing name, Ruth Reichl. Conde Nast lured her to the top job from her highly visible post as restaurant reviewer for The New York Times. Her peers, looking back, think she should have told Nasty to stuff it.

Ms. Reichl came aboard a magazine with the largest and finest food information resources. Street talk has it that Ms. Reichl and staff were not informed of the intent to cease publication. When she and her staff were informed of the closing on a Monday morning, she posted this on Twitter: "Sorry not to be posting now, but I'm packing. We're all stunned, sad."

(*) The accepted altered spelling for recipes at the time, pronounced as re-ceets. And still a common usage in the deep rural south.

Keeper Cassie Chenoweth
Eight Grade, General Studies
Columbus, Ohio

Cassie Chenoweth, age 2, shares her review lunch...

Food analogy works for young writer, a new Keeper, 'Life Is Like a Burrito'...

When she was a seventh grader, Cassie Chenoweth, working with good genes, compared ingredients of a burrito to life's complexities in general.

"If you had only one ingredient in your burrito, like salsa or rice, for example, your burrito wouldn't be very good," she wrote. She notes that decisions in life are often controlled by others. In passing through an ingredients line to select toppings for her burrito, she controls the decisions. Having never experienced corn salsa, first bite, "spicy, warm," was discovery, to her, "my idea of a good life."

She wrote that having "one talent" in life wasn't sufficient for a well-rounded life. References to her many hobbies, noting that if she had to live with just one of them, she could not function. Her point in the Grade A essay, was the analogy comparing life choices to the variety choices made in constructing a burrito beyond one with only rice.
Cassie's cause: Hunger in Africa:
Her parents in tow, she works
with orphans in Kenya

Cassie, age 13, raspberries and dark chocolate...

Ms. Chenoweth proves a point when it comes to collecting cookbooks. An avid reader, she has gone through scores of books appropriate for a young person. Her world is one of travel experiences which expanded her approach to foods. She is not a burger and fries teenager. Trips, plural, to Kenya made her aware of hunger needs of others. There are foods she avoids for health reasons. She has raised money for African missions. At age 13 her writing assignments tend to reflect her feelings about food safety and food scarcity.

In her 13th year she now owns a cookbook. She intends to keep it, possibly because it is a repeater, meaning she can select one recipe, then do a repeat on a second appealing list of ingredients. To do that her first book becomes a keeper. It will not be loaned to a friend. In her case, her first trial over pots and pans was to prepare for parents and younger brother, chocolate-raspberry tortes. Reviews from family, all three of them: excellent, tasty, great and other such adjectives. Of course, she chose one recipe with a show time primary ingredient that is universal, chocolate. Fresh fruit such as a raspberry also has appeal.

Any recipe with chocolate in the title is an upfront winner.

Keeper Cassie's first favorite:
The Joy of Chocolate
by Judith Olney
Barrons Educational Series c 1982

Author Judith Olney, in all her inky credits is a cookbook author first, then we learn she has been a restaurant critic and for a time,food editor of Washington Times. She is a cooking school teacher in her home town, Palm Beach, Florida. Over her working years Olney has lived in Africa, probably getting some of her familiarity with chocolate, a major African export. Like all good food writers she had serious times in restaurant and hotel kitchens. One stint is a big time resume cred...in London she worked for cookery writer Elizabeth David (authored noted English Bread and Yeast Cookery, see Keeper Tom Johnson's primary choice). In London, Olney spent some learning time in the prestigious Connought Hotel.

Cassie's Keeper didn't come from usual sources such as a book store or an Internet pitch. She went the honor trade route. The Little Library, a small free standing neighborhood box loaded with books of general interest. It runs on the honor system. Keeper Cassie made her choice, dropped off a replacement.

Keeper Alexi Vlaar
Travel Writer
Medical Technician
Columbus, Ohio

Food writer Alexi Vlaar begins his research...

Alexi Vlaar has a day job in the medical profession. But his hobby of travel through the EU nations while taking copious notes and with a digital camera is slowly pointing him toward a new career: Writing for periodicals in the ink-on-paper form.

Vlaar's favorite cookbook,
purchased in San Francisco:

The Curry Book
Memorable Flavors and Irresistible Recipes
From Around the World

by Nancie McDermott
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
c 1999

Vlaar, born in The Netherlands, curried his taste factors while touring all the EU nations. Like any tourist, he always returned home discussing foods, dining experiences, before he mentioned travel brochure pitches. Now in planning stages to visit Asia, Singapore is for starters, it is understood why he would select this McDermott cookbook from the 10 she has on book store shelves. All focus on Asian kitchens. (*)

McDermott, born in the pole position of North Carolina's Piedmont country, could have remained home and devoted a lifetime writing about the vinegar based sauces used on whole hogs as they barbqued (noun) over hard wood coals. BBQ has three domains in her home state, western, central and eastern. Burlington, her birth town, is home plate to what much of the BBQ world considers true Q, that being pulled pork seasoned with real smoke and a peppered tomato sauce spiked with vinagar. That's North Carolina Q. With hush puppies and a bowl of Brunswick stew you are seated in Hursey's Bar-B-Q on Burlington's Church street. But Vlaar's curry inspiration took the Peace Corps route to a world where spices turn into curries. Three years in Thailand created her lifelong love for cuisines that once seemed far far away to be enjoyed in this hemisphere. Vlaar will duplicate the McDermott travels.

(*) Locavores, take note: Nancie McDermott has returned to Chapel Hill, NC. Trade talk says she is gearing up to write about America's southern comfort foods. She is contributing editor for Edible Piedmont Magazine. Her writing and research platform, Chapel Hill, has a wonderful country cooking restaurant...Mama Dip's. Eat dessert first...

Vlaar, has a second fave,
purchased from his nearby Book Loft:

The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook
A Collection of Our Favorite Recipes for the Home Cook
Authored, Compiled by CIA Staff
c 2008

This is one of those cookbooks best suited for real foodies, those who like heavy reading. Heavy heafty is here: 400 pages, 3.4 pounds. This is the CIA that produces chefs, not spooks. It is America's most prestigious seat of all things culinary when it comes to higher education. Vlaar selected this one, possibly in order...for "great photography, great recipes, but then it is a great cookbook."

Start with a section titled Prior To Cooking. There are his tips for buying and storing of ingredients. The book is divided into eight good read chapters: Beverages and snacks...appetizers and salads...broths and soups...pasta, casseroles and light fare...main dishes...vegetables and side dishes...egg dishes and griddle cakes...and close with baked goods and desserts. In cookbook world, this CIA production is very much a keeper. Over the years few offerings and procedures change. It will be passed down for generations or show up in estates. Vlaar may pull out a few recipes. Odds are he will be a true keeper and use it for writing research.

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