The oldest, newest, and most loved cookbooks at Food52


You won’t be surprised to find that the staff of indexed blog Food52 have extensive cookbook collections. Like many of us, they have more cookbooks than bookshelves to hold them, with books to be found hither and yon. Now they’re sharing with us which cookbooks they are “holding onto, cooking from, and buying up.”

Contributing writer and editor Lindsay-Jean Hard writes that her oldest cookbook is a 1958 copy of the Better Homes & Gardens Salad Book. Her most loved cookbook? Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy. She lists her newest as Nigel Slater’s Tender, although I suspect that by “newest” she means “most recently acquired,” because Tender was published before Vegetable Literacy.

Erin McDowell, food stylist, writer, and co-test kitchen manager, found her copy of the 1911 The Grocer’s Encyclopedia in a library cart next to the dumpster. She notes that it contains “some great information, which is, surprisingly, not horribly outdated. Best of all, it has these crazy detailed drawings of all kinds of meat, fish, produce, nuts, etc.” Erin’s most  loved books are a tattered early copy of Stocking Up and Great Pies and Tarts by Carole Walter. The latter was her “first bible when it came to fruits nestled in flaky crusts and is completely spattered with strawberry juice.”

Check out the comments at Food52 to find out what’s on the shelves of other people, including EYB’s Jane Kelly. My oldest cookbook is a 1955 copy of Cream, Butter, & Wine by Sybil Goffinet. Written after World War II rationing was finally over in Britain, it was a way to get people reacquainted with the ingredients that had been in short supply for nearly a generation. As such, it’s not a cookbook for anyone on a diet. My newest cookbook is Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold. My most-loved cookbook, as I’ve explained previously, is a well-worn copy of Joy of Cooking, a gift that started me on my culinary adventures.

What are the oldest, newest, and most-loved cookbooks on your Bookshelf?

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  • ellabee  on  February 8, 2015

    Speaking of "indexed blog Food52"… bching asked this question in the forum recently on the Blog Request thread, but there's been no answer yet: What's happened to the indexing of Food52 recipes? The newest recipe indexed is from last fall (Oct. or Nov. 2014).

  • ellabee  on  February 8, 2015

    Meanwhile, on topic:

    Oldest: Cross Creek Cookery by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, mid-1940s. My mother may have bought it while stationed in Florida during the war. Oops, wait, there's one older: a 1939 printing of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer (6th edition, copyright 1936, revision by Wilma Perkins).

    Newest: In the sense of "most recently published": One Good Plate by David Tanis, November 2013. In the sense of "most recently acquired": Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen, published in fall of 2006 but only on my kitchen shelf for a month.

    Favorite: I'm sentimentally attached to and learned a lot of important cooking lessons from Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure, 1973. It was the first cookbook I bought for myself.

  • Cati  on  February 8, 2015

    I too have 1958 Better House and Garden Salad Book,1958 Better H & G Barbecue Book and 1959 Better H &G Holiday Cook Book. My favourite find from that time was recipe for Blue cheese dip on page 137 of the Salad Book. I remember how exciting it was to get recipe books with coloured illustrations. Prior to that I only had Commonsense Cookery Book by Public Schools Cookery Teachers of New South Wales 1937 and the later book Advanced Commonsense Cookery Book 1951. A pity I cannot put them on my EYB shelf as they have no ISBN numbers.

  • Jane  on  February 9, 2015

    ellabee – we had some staffing issues on Food52 indexing and we got very behind. It has now been assigned to another indexer so you should see the backlog clearing in the next few weeks.

  • ellabee  on  February 10, 2015

    Thanks, Jane! At least this time of year is a little less frenetic pace for indexing than the holiday cooking / cookbook publishing surge of November & December…

  • Rinshin  on  February 10, 2015

    Ha! It's bad enough in one language, but when another language is also very prominent, cookbooks mushrooms. I now think I have almost as many Japanese language books as English ones. Not the magazines though. I normally cook maybe 55% Japanese so Japanese cookbooks are looked at a lot.

  • lindsayjean  on  February 11, 2015

    You're exactly right Darcie, the Food52 staff was originally asked to share "our oldest, most loved, and most recently acquired cookbooks." (Making my answer make more sense before it was edited to say "newest.")

    Some people took that directive literally, while others took "oldest" to mean the book they had owned for the longest amount of time, and others interpreted "most recently acquired" as the newest publication date — so we ended up with an interesting mish-mash of interpretations and answers!

  • freckles  on  February 12, 2015

    Made me look. From my Library Thing list it is "The American Woman's Cook Book" by Ruth Berolzheimer 1946.
    From my EYB list it is "River Road Recipes" by Junior League of Baton Rouge 1959. My second EYB is "Pot Shots from A Grosse Ile Kitchen"by Lucy Corbett 1947. Recipes are added in with stories. Now I am going to look on my shelves for a book I think is older than these. What fun, made me look.

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