And there are many. I had to have surgery recently and wanted to make sure I had plenty to read afterwards, so I ordered some really great books from Green Apple Books, a San Francisco store whose website I stumbled across. They have an interesting selection of out-of-print cookbooks and very reasonable prices. I ordered:
- Sylvia Thompson, The Kitchen Garden Cookbook and Feasts and Friends - Recipes From a Lifetime. I had a couple of Sylvia Thompson recipes that I'd collected from various websites; after preparing one of them a few weeks ago (some herb-y biscuits) I wanted to know more about her. I'm glad I ordered both of these books because they're filled with very appealing recipes and warm, well-written anecdotes about her family (her mother is actress Gloria Stuart; her godmother is M.F.K. Fisher), her friends, and her travels.
- Cooking with Craig Clairborne and Pierre Franey: 600 recipes from The New York Times. Last summer I spent a fair amount of time flipping through someone else's Craig Clairborne cookbooks in a rented cottage and it seemed worthwhile to have at least one of my own. This one was published in 1983 but is thankfully not full of recipes involving microwaves, sun-dried tomatoes, and/or the gratuitous use of caviar, or whatever else everyone ate in between Jazzercise, blowing rails, and the Mudd Club.
- Corinne Griffith, Eggs I Have Known. I'd not heard of this one before but the title was irresistible.
After a bit of googling I discovered that Griffith was a silent film actress, real estate investor, author, and anti-income tax activist who somehow also found the time to marry and divorce four husbands.
The book is thoroughly charming, and Ms. Griffith seems to have been genuinely knowledgeable about cooking. At the beginning of each chapter is a well-chosen quote. My favorite: "The dessert should be dramatic. Unless it creates a stir of interest at its appearance there is no object in having this final course—since no one is really hungry." Louis P. de Gouy
- Mona Bazaar, Cookbook in Solidarity With the Symbionese Liberation Army. I was very curious about what I'd find in this one. Picnic-type snacks for the getaway car? Light lunches for finicky hostages? Old Hearst family favorites? Or dreary hippie casseroles of brown rice + whatever?
Sadly, it's the latter. The SLA is justifiably not known for its gastronomy. Strangely, many of the recipes seem to have come straight from their fascist, rascist, imperialist oppressors.
What's revolutionary about "Hamburger Potato Pie" made with ground beef, shredded cheese, and dehydrated onion? Ground beef and dehydrated anything are hallmarks of honky cuisine; all that's missing is canned soup and a crushed potato chip topping. Sigh. I probably won't be cooking anything from this book, but as a historical collectible it's invaluable. I now know that irony hadn't been invented yet back in ye olde 70's.