Monday, March 5, 2012
I Become a Cookbook "Picker".
This little spiral bound cookbook, apparently bought in a Hawaiian gift shop, is worth between $15 and $20.
I bought it for 50 cents at an estate sale yesterday. I bought George Lang's "The Cuisine of Hungary" for 50 cents as well, and it may be worth $30 to $50. Of course finding a buyer is key, but a 19 dollar profit on a fifty cent investment might send me out to start beating the Internet bushes.
So many of the cookbooks left on the last weekend of this three week estate sale were good, though not 21st century. And if I ever decide to sell what I "pick", I know that I will sell these books to collectors , and not to people who want to find recipes. These books will be just artifacts, or decorative props.
For the era of cookbooks is over. There may still be a market for ethnic themes, and recipes from trendy restaurants and chefs, but the general cookbook is done for. Who is going to pick up a cookbook for a meatloaf recipe when they can click through to it on the Internet in seconds?
I saw a home cook on the Cooking Channel's "Foodography", who found all her recipes on web sites, and in return, posted her own at these 21st century Cooking Commons. She sent her original dish-"Lasagna Cupcakes"- out to make its way in the world-
You and I may want to read Elizabeth David, but most people just want to put something on the table that looks home-cooked, and they do not care about gastronomy or culture or history.
Yet even the hot young chefs at their hard to get into restaurants feel some nostalgia at this end of a epoch. I read an interview with a young southern chef named Sean Brock who spoke wistfully of how much he loved Richard Olney's Time-Life series "The Good Cook". Brock missed the care and the patience and the attention to details in the cooking shown in those books.
And this is the reason I will continue to collect and to pick cookbooks, even if I never sell a single one.
* The interview with Sean Brock was in a column called "The Cookbook Shelf" at Eater.com. Eater is a food site about just that. It is devoted not to cooking, but to eating out everywhere- from food trucks to the newest restaurants all over the U.S.