DCCC Opens for Business

November 09, 2010
By Holly Jennings

The Dowdy Corners Cookbook Club has finally begun, after thinking about it for more than a couple of years. Actually, a small group of interested friends, neighbors, and friends of friends, has already been reading and cooking from the club’s first cookbook Entice with Spice, a very accessible introduction to Indian home cooking. The launch of the DCCC blog has been a bit slower going, plagued, as I am, by a double handicap of technophobia and perfectionism. (I’m used to working on printed books, and so I have to remind myself that blogs are loops of on-going adjustment, feedback, adjustment, feedback . . . .) Plus there is a heck of a lot of difference between being a content provider and reacting to something that’s already out there. (I’m a book editor by trade, and I’ve always been sympathetic to authors when they say they’re stuck with a certain passage of text or section of a book—and the blank screen is facing them.)

Why begin a cookbook club, you might ask, when just about any recipe can be found online? Because, I say, there is still something to be found in cookbooks, some cookbooks, that can’t be gotten from voiceless recipes gathered randomly online: a personal tour through a cuisine, food, or cooking technique with a hand-picked collection of recipes that not only express the author’s passion for the subject—built on sometimes years, or even a lifetime of learning—but also teaches us the larger picture. This is something that a single, anonymous recipe isn’t likely to do.

The ability to search recipes online is very convenient and I, like a lot of people, use online recipes, along with those found in cookbooks, to research and compare recipes to come up with my own version of something. But if I really want to delve into a food or cuisine, it’s to a cookbook that I turn. And I know I’m not the only one who values cookbooks for this reason. (There will be lots more to come on the value of cookbooks in this blog from various folks: club members, home cooks, book sellers, authors, librarians, publishers, chefs.)

Whether the printed cookbook will always remain valid is another matter. (I hope it does because I like the feel of a book in my hands.) What will always be valued is the cookbook that offers a curated experience with an original voice, no matter what form it takes.

0 Comments to “DCCC Opens for Business”

  1. Sam Heffernan says:

    Holly: If you slop something on the page of a cookbook you can always just wipe it off and keep going. Slop something on the keyboard of a laptop & you just might have to replace it. Also, cookbooks work when the power is out (for those of us who cook on either wood or propane especially). SH

  2. That’s an excellent point Sam. For those of us living in the country, where power sometimes goes out (and after all of this time, we STILL don’t have a generator), hard copy is the ultimate back up. I like the “slop and keep going” approach. I once saw a chef apply that to a dirty cutting board. If you’re in a hurry, don’t wash it, just turn it over to use the clean side.

  3. I actually like cookbooks that have the slop—wine, butter stains, watermarks—on them; it’s a bit like foodie pentimento (maybe some day pimento pentimento).

  4. And if a pentimento cookbook gets passed on through the generations, you would have some nicely aged food residue. I just got a watermark on Entice with Spice the other week, but from an unexpected source. The skylight in our kitchen was leaking. Now that moment in time is embedded in my cookbook forever.


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