Harrison Happenings: The pleasure of reading cookbooks

Reading cookbooks is a perfect holiday past-time. It is a little bit like reading “Hello” magazines:


Reading cookbooks is a perfect holiday past-time.

It is a little bit like reading “Hello” magazines:  you get to read and see all the things great chefts cook and the glamourous people eat, without having to cook and eat it yourself.  And, once in a while they even give us good “ideas”!

I have a daughter who worked thirty years in the catering business and I also have many relatives and friends who, like myself, are greatly interested in al things food, cooking and eating.

As a result, we have a small library of about thirty cookbooks and a stack of gourmet magazines in our house and,  just recently, I browsed through them again. They are all different: some read like travelogs, others like food history books. Then there are those which are more on the entertaining side (who did not love the TV show, “Cooking with Two Fat Ladies”?)while others take a serious attempt to teach the techniques of cutting, chopping, pureeing, steaming and other tricks of the trade.

I have never mastered some of these techniques so I do not feel any pressure to learn it now.  However, I am still in awe to watch all those TV chefs cutting the onions, etc. and wish I could do it myself too!

When I had finished my browsing, I picked a few favorite books and put all the others away again. Which books did I like best?  One was written by an english chef, Sue Style, who divided her time for many years between Switzerland, England and Alsace. The book on hand is called, “A Taste of Alsace” and is a little bit of everything:  entertaining, interesting and very knowledgeable  about alsacian food.

The other one was the first cookbook written by our own well-known Vancouver chef and caterer, Susan Mendelson. It was her first cookbook, written in l980 and titled, “Mama Never Cooked Like This”. By the looks of our copy, stained and marked, it was well used! There are newer ones written by Susan, but this perhaps is the one which taught many people, especially the younger folks, how to cook and cook healthy.

I should also say that it is vegetarian, which makes it especially interesting to me.  Though I do eat meat occasionally, I prefer vegetarian cooking as long as it is done well. Mostly, though, I think that the days of bland and rather tasteless vegetarian foods are over.

And, I dare say, cooking vegetarian food can be even more interesting than sticking to the “tried and trusted”.

Looking through all these books I found one I wrote myself many years ago titled, “Eating-In with Family and Friends”.  It contains recipes I collected from and for my family and friends, with little stories about them. Of course, all those recipes had to be “guest tested”, usually in our house, which was great fun!

As you can see, though I never came even close to being a chef, I always liked to cook and to cook as healthy as possible.


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