Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cookbooks galore

When they said Dallas was great for shopping, I scoffed. I scorned. I'm not that kind of person, I thought, I'm, you know, deeper than that.

Of course, back then I didn't realise how great the shopping was, nor how much more fun it is to shop when you're driving around in a car. Nor did I quite understand that some of the shopping would involve.... books. I refer mainly to the spider's web that awaits me on the way home: Half Price Books. It has used books. It has remaindered books, often very good ones. (I just bought Nicholas Orme's Medieval Schools brand new for $20, for example.) It has a quirky little foreign language section, where I bought an Icelandic collection of medieval Chinese tales. And it has cookbooks. As if its low prices weren't enough, there is also a discount section where books cost either a buck or three. Moreover, being an educator will get you a discount card, and showing your public transit pass will get you an even bigger discount.

This is how I got each of these books for 85 cents plus tax:



I used to read my parents' copy of The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Romewhen I was a teenager.





The All Around the World Cookbook is a quirky tome, as much travelogue as cookbook, and I bought it more for the cultural information than for the recipes.

 

Half Price books also has delightful modern cookbooks from all kinds of cuisines on sale:











I particularly love Indian cookbooks, and tend to cook out of them more reliably than out of any other recipe collections. HPB does not disappoint:



Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian looks amazing. The one dish I've cooked from it so far, a simple African bean and dill stew sort of thing, was much more delicious than it had a right to be, and took me about ten minutes to make.



 Who can resist?



The Indian Menu Planner is a real treasure... it seems to come from some sort of Indian hotel chain. And it unfolds like so:




But that's not all. Open, sesame!



That's right. Just try and tell me you're not jealous.

I also found some neat cookbooks in the German-language section:



 

 

I simply love how old school these are, and how they cover the gamut from rich pastries and meaty regional dishes to spartan boiled vegetable dishes.

The other place to find cheap cookbook treasures is Marshall's. This is where I discovered the wonder and glory of Martha Stewart cookbooks:



 

I know. Listen, I'm not a Martha fan, but when you page through a book and find recipe after recipe that sounds appetizing and looks doable, you can forget that it's by Martha Stewart. Her recipe for chimichurri was easy to make and took care of a bunch of parsley that was lying around. The squash soup also turned out well.





Her Cooking School is just sheer gorgeousness. You could put this book on a coffee table and just enjoy the pictures. Now, if only I had a dozen hungry people to cook for every week!

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