A good friend of mine, and baking enthusiast, once told me that she no longer saw the point in buying cookbooks, given that everything was available online.
“What was the point,” she asked, “in spending money needlessly, especially when that shelf space could be put to better use?”
I let that marinate for a few days.
I love what the internet has done for my cooking. I have a circuit of favorite food blogs and online publications that I run through weekly, and I often cook from recipes saved to my Paprika app. But I also have a small, well-loved collection of cookbooks that have traveled with me to five different apartments in the last 10 years. I would never dream of leaving them behind!
Cooking from cookbooks grounds me in a way that digital tools do not. To slide my finger down the page, looking for the next ingredient, is so much more satisfying than trying to paw at my iPad screen with flour covered fingertips.
It’s so easy to rationalize why I shouldn’t be buying cookbooks, though.
It usually starts with an innocent trip to the nearby bookstore during lunch. I like to peruse the cookbook section for inspiration, often examining cookbooks I’ve recently heard about on a podcast or read about elsewhere. I like to see the size of them, feel the weight, touch the pages and flip through to see what the contents are like. But then I get to thinking…
Will I actually cook from it? Maybe I should just buy the e-book. But actually cooking from an e-book is such a pain! It's such a beautiful book. But shelf space is VERY limited. What if all of the recipes are online? Is it worth the price? Should I see if it's cheaper on Amazon? But I love this bookstore, I should just buy it here and support their business. Ugh, I was so excited a minute ago, why is this so difficult?!
And of course, I usually walk out empty handed. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling absolutely paralyzed by my own indecisiveness, too.
So, here I am, starting a blog about cookbooks. In all of my indecisiveness, I’ve thought a lot about what makes a cookbook worthwhile. Maybe I can put it all to good use, and save someone else from the experience of talking themselves out of buying a new cookbook.
And maybe writing about cookbooks is just the sort of adjacent hobby I need to get over this ridiculous fear that I’ll run out of shelf space.