Russ Parsons cleans out his cookbook collection

 boxes of books

Russ Parsons has collected a lot of cookbooks over his 30 year career as a food writer. As he begins a new chapter in his life, he has decided to pare down his extensive collection. "Getting rid of some of those cookbooks seemed like a good start to my transition. Like shedding an old habit," Parsons said. "And what a mighty habit it had been. I have always been powerless to resist the pull of a good cookbook," he continued (we feel your pain, Russ).

Parsons donated about 500 cookbooks to the Long Beach Public Library, which plans to establish a culinary collection in his name. He plans to donate more at a later date. So which books did he decide to keep? The first category included signed first editions of the first books of his favorite authors, including a slipcovered copy of Brillat-Savarin's "Physiology of Taste" signed by its translator, copies of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" signed by Julia Child, and Paula Wolfert's "Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco" among other.

Other books he kept were mainly American and European regional tomes. The books that didn't make the cut included several chef books, with the exception of those based on home cooking (such as the Chez Panisse books). "I probably have seen enough pretty pictures of food to last a lifetime, and my sous-vide machine is so far back in my pantry I can't reach it," says Parsons.


  • ellabee  on  3/2/2016 at 10:58 AM

    :: Brillat-Savarin's "Physiology of Taste" signed by its translator :: That would be M.F.K. Fisher, yes?

  • manycookbooks  on  7/2/2017 at 1:44 PM

    I wish Russ had called me....I would have been happy to help him downsize his collection.....mine is currently approaching 6,000, but I still have room for a few more!

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