After cooking in the kitchen all day with my Bake-Off books (see yesterday’s blog) I decided to put my feet up and read the food sections of all the local newspapers. Staring me in the face on the cover of the Food section of the Chicago Sun-Times, was chef Paul Virant smiling and holding a huge stack of cookbooks, with the headline “In the Stacks: For Many Chefs the Path to Culinary Enlightenment is Paved with Cookbooks.” As a cookbook fanatic and collector, that’s enough to keep me smiling all day. Most cookbook collectors will most likely have the Time-Life “Foods of the World” cookbook series. In the article, chef Matthias Merges who ran Charlie Trotter’s kitchen for fourteen years, says he first read the book series when he was eight years old – and he still has them.
The story gets better as it continues to another page. Sitting in his bedroom, surrounded by nearly 2,000 cookbooks, and covering his body, is Jimmy Bannos, third-generation restaurateur of “Heaven on Seven” restaurants, grinning from ear to ear. He joked that he moved his cookbooks into the bedroom so some great ideas will enter his brain while he sleeps. I felt instant connection. Jimmy said his daughter will walk into the room and claims she feels smarter as she leaves. I wish I had a bedroom large enough to accommodate all my books. Only problem with that is, my husband would never be able to find me. I have to trek down to my basement, my “Culinary Cellar,” to sit happily with my thousands of books and recipe clippings. (See my partial collection above and more photos on the right of this page). Oh, yes, we are addicts. And don’t try to help us, as there is no cure.