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Some of the Best Cookbooks Are Hard to Come By

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My favorite children’s book is out of print. I love it for the story, of course, but I’ll admit it: That it’s out of print makes it a little extra-special to me. Not because it makes it worth more—I’m not a book collector—but because it gives it an underdog status, and I just love under-appreciated things. I’ll have to sell you just a little bit harder on its value, and you’ll have to work just a little bit harder to get your hands on a copy of it.

So, after Ali, our Books Editor, asked for resources for reading out-of-print cookbooks, I was curious what out-of-print cookbooks our community owns and loves. I asked for input over on the Hotline, and my “to-find” list of cookbooks grew exponentially as a result. Here’s what a few of you had to say:​

Photo by aargersi
  • Aargersi has a couple of unique ones, Country Commune Cooking and The Hare Krsna Cookbook—though they might hold more nostalgic value than culinary:

    “In the Commune one, an opening chapter is titled 'A Rap About Kitchen Tools'—heh—and it reads like, well what you would expect. Hare Krishna quote: ‘This transcendental cookbook is designed to help you transform one of the most important daily chores into a spiritual reservoir of bliss.’ How's THAT for a mission statement??”

  • Tim from Wpg likes Traditional Ukrainian Cookery, saying:

    ”Originally published in 1957 by Trident Press in Winnipeg Canada (a large number of Ukrainians immigrated to Western Canada, lured by cheap land and their love of farming). I believe the last printing was 1995, and people are crazy for this book. I have a copy in my cookbook collection, but I​ still find it occasionally in thrift stores, and booksellers will give me $80 for it without blinking. They have a waiting list of people looking for it. I've never really cooked from it, but I've read through it, and it's an interesting snapshot of old country cooking. If you want to learn about nose-to-tail cooking before it became trendy, this is a good primer.”​

  • One of Pierino’s suggestions is Gourmet’s Basic French Cookbook Techniques of French Cooking, which he says was timed to arrive with the New York World's Fair, adding, “Same year as Julia Child's but a better book. Unlike most cookbooks today the recipes might be one or two paragraphs with the ingredients included. I inherited my mother's copy. She bought most of the good ones back then.”

Photo by Mark Weinberg

We want to hear about your favorite out-of-print cookbooks: Continue the conversation on the Hotline post or tell us in the comments below!

Tags: Books, Cookbooks, Hotline, Your Burning Questions