Book Reviews | December 2021 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Cookbook Passion Put to Paper

Credit: Barrett’s Photography, Las Vegas

Cookbook collector and author Pamela Kure Grogan

In the new book, My Cookbook Passion: Culinary History and Adventure in Exploring My Personal Collection (Gaudium, $49.99), author Pamela Kure Grogan combines vintage recipes with a heaping spoonful of bibliophilia.

Courtesy of Gaudium Publishing

Grogan began working at Williams-Sonoma in 1986, and it was the company’s founder, Chuck Williams, that introduced the author to collecting vintage cookbooks. The job also provided opportunities to mingle with famous chefs like Julia Child (and to have them sign copies of their books for her). As a collector, Grogan began by seeking out what she likes best—mid-century American cookery—without paying much attention to details like edition or printing. “Nowadays, whenever possible I seek quality upgrades,” she writes. “In recent months I’ve been surprised these older books can be discovered, many at reasonable prices, though dust jackets in good condition are more elusive.”

The chapters are arranged by theme, e.g. “men at work” and restaurant cookbooks, or by dominant publishing houses, e.g. Barrows and Farm Journal. Chapter two features celebrity cookbooks, including Liberace Cooks! (1970), while chapter twelve surveys cocktail and wine guides, like Giggle Water (1928). Most of her books are twentieth- and twenty-first-century volumes.

Essentially, My Cookbook Passion is a book lover’s memoir, one that is less disposed toward bibliographical nitty-gritty and more interested in sharing with fellow foodies an engaging capsule history of modern cookbooks. The recipes sprinkled throughout are an added bonus—Hawaiian pineapple pickle, anyone? Illustrated with lively book covers, menus, and photos, this book makes a perfect holiday gift.

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