Yesterday morning I sat out on the plaza at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) for half an hour, sipping a cappuccino and just enjoying the cool, sunny September morning. I had been there a couple of days before, over the weekend, when the plaza was pretty empty. But on a Tuesday morning the plaza was busy with students walking back and forth and few visitors toting bags from the bookstore or just enjoying the view.
Truthfully I was one of those people toting bags at one point. I had an hour to myself while G was taking an exercise class at his gym, a mere quarter mile down the road. Usually I get the house to myself a couple of hours in the morning while G and J go to the gym and then go out for coffee, but J wasn't available Tuesday and I volunteered for car duty, knowing full well that I had the perfect opportunity to indulge in a little cookbook shopping.
I had no particular reason to be there, especially not in the bookstore. I already own over 300 cookbooks and certainly don't "need" any more. (The photo shows only a small portion of the cookbook shelves.) But need is such a subjective term, and I love cooking and cookbooks. I love reading them. I love cooking from them. In fact there are over 150 cookbooks on my cookbook wish list. I would probably find most of them necessary as well, if I owned them. I am no minimalist, especially not where cookbooks are concerned.
Truthfully, every cookbook in my collection is used, although not perhaps in steady rotation and has been saved for a specific reason. This is not to say that mistakes aren't made, or that a well-meaning interloper does not occasionally invade the space. The books that can't keep up usually fail pretty quickly.
Like everything else in my life, I tend to cook in cycles. We might go through a Middle Eastern phase in the kitchen, or a Mexican phase, or a seafood phase. Or I might just glom onto one or two cookbooks purely on whim and cook from them over and over for days or weeks until something else catches my fancy.
I had seen a few books I was interested in on Saturday, but at the time we had a reservation and I knew I could come back anytime. And come back I did. But I didn't come back without a plan or rules. I checked my cookbook wish list and even printed a copy of it to take with me. And I decided that no matter how many books I wanted to buy, and there would be many, I could only come home with three.
I think my choices worked out well. I indulged in one frivolous, just because I want it book, David Tanis' A Platter of Figs. Then I purchased two books that helped to fill holes in my existing collection.
Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings will not be universally applicable as wheat starch doughs are far more common that doughs I can actually eat, but there are things I can use directly here, and I am hoping that there is enough information that I can understand other doughs better with the hope of eventually creating my own, compromised versions of old favorites. I do have Florence Lin's book on Chinese Noodles and dumplings, but this book covers a much wider variety of doughs and I think I will learn much and enjoy the process.
It seems odd to me to think that I have very few Indian cookbooks, but it is true. I have longed liked Indian food, but until about a year ago, G wouldn't touch it, always blaming the yellow rice he ate in the cafeteria during the late night shift at Passavant Hospital in Chicago during his internship. But a year ago he discovered a little Indian restaurant near us that he loved, and he loves going out for Indian food. We've been exploring more Indian cuisine at home as well. He likes to help grinding the spices and is eager to try new dishes. 660 Curries should allow for quite a bit of exploration with new tastes. Now that the weather is cooling down a bit the idea of cooking is getting more appealing. Cooking curry might be just the thing.
(photo of the plaza at the Culinary courtesy of the CIA's website)