CBC News

Too many books, so little time

by Jessica Wong, CBCNews.ca

For many people, including pack rats like me, it's not until we are faced with moving that we actually get around to purging the excess from our lives.

Besides the not-necessarily onerous quest of clearing up my pantry, refrigerator and freezer stocks this fall, I have a much more difficult task on my plate.

My name is Jessica and I own too many cookbooks.

It's interesting when you get to a point in life when you see in yourself the traits, quirks and foibles of your parents. My mother, also, has too many cookbooks and — like her — I love poring through vast tomes of culinary education and technique. At the same time, we both tend to cook from the same few titles.

Who should I part with? Is it time to say goodbye to Martha, Tyler or Jamie? Do I really need an entire shelf dedicated to desserts? Are multiple, gigantic volumes about being a domestic goddess/hostess with the mostest too much?

My need to pare down isn't helped by the fact that, in preparation for the imminent holiday gift-giving season, publishers are unleashing their latest onslaught of artistic, aspirational, gorgeously styled books from top chefs, cooks and food writers.

It doesn't help that the 11th annual Canadian Culinary Book Awards were presented last week, with awfully tempting titles from Ricardo, Trish Magwood and several locavore chefs taking honours.

My subscription in a cookbook club — one which sends me flyers jam-packed with new books that overwhelm my incredibly lax willpower — doesn't help either.

Then again, perhaps I just need more boxes and a way to persuade my partner to move them.

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I know! Even with all the recipes online these days, it's still enjoyable flipping through REAL cook books and looking at photos...

Posted November 14, 2008 04:28 PM


My favourite is our family's collection of old cookbooks, handed down from ages past. If you can look past the three of four chapters (per book) of jello salads and other frightening concepts, they've got some real gems.

Posted November 17, 2008 08:24 AM

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Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.


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