A Cook's Diary

I used to spend a fortune on cookbooks. Not anymore.

I used to spend a fortune on cookbooks. Not anymore. | casaveneracion.com

If you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to enter my home office, you’d see a three-level bookshelf filled with cookbooks. But those aren’t all the cookbooks I own. I have more upstairs. There was a time when I couldn’t enter a bookstore without buying a cookbook. If you’ve bought one, you’ll know that they don’t come cheap.

That changed about five years or so ago. That’s how long it’s been since the last time I bought a cookbook. I don’t need more. When I have the time, I am going to sort out the cookbooks that I have. One pile will contain the really useful ones and the ones I received as gifts. Another pile will contain all the rest. I will keep the cookbooks in the first pile and give away everything in the second pile.

The high cost of cookbooks is not the main reason that I stopped buying them. It is one of the reasons, yes, but not the most important one.

Food photos in most cookbooks are not taken by the authors themselves right after each dish is cooked. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the food photos are taken by a professional photographer with the help of a food stylist. The plated food is carefully staged to create the most visual appeal. And there is really nothing wrong with that. In fact, some of my favorite cookbooks have loads of beautiful photos that go with the recipes. However, after learning that “industry practices” include faking food photos to make the subjects look more appealing, I started distrusting cookbooks. Things like substituting mashed potatoes for ice cream, spraying cooked food with glycerin to give it a glossy finish or brushing a raw turkey with shoe polish and say it is a perfectly roasted turkey…

Well, people have brains for a reason. I choose to use mine. Why should I pay to get lied to? Cookbooks aren’t sold under the “fiction” genre. When the accompanying photos are a fictitious representation of the recipes, there’s something very wrong somewhere and I start questioning the merit of the recipes as well. It is for the same reason that I don’t follow food blogs written by food stylists and food photographers. Beautiful food photos are poor substitutes for good recipes. And good recipes are produced by real cooks, not by skilled food stylists and food photographers.

The stock photo is from Pixabay.

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