The cookbooks that shaped a career

 cookbook collage

When chef and author Samin Nosrat first approached Chez Panisse restaurant in California for an internship, she was turned down. The chef did, however, give her a list of books that she should read and cook through, telling her to come back after she was finished. She did just that, and launched her cooking career at the restaurant after learning from these classic tomes. Nosrat discusses those books, along with others that have shaped her culinary journey, with The New York Times Magazine

The chef notes that a great food book does not need to provide technical information or even recipes. Several books on Nosrat's list are by authors who she refers to as her "20th century cookery ladies". In these tomes - Honey From a Weed by Patience Gray, The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher, two books by Elizabeth David, and three books by Jane Grigson  - the vivid and compelling stories taught Nosrat how "cooking, food writing and eating should feel: full of beauty and pleasure." Other books by Roy Andries de Groot and Waverley Root also fall into this camp. Root's division of his The Food of France into sections on butter, lard and oil, taught Nosrat that "entire cuisines can be defined by their cooking fats."

Sometimes you need technical assistance, however, and some books on Nosrat's list that provide both sage advice and detailed instruction. Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France and Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco, Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Lynne Rosetto Kasper's The Splendid Table land in this category.  Seeing all of these wonderful book titles motivates me to dig into my library this weekend, pull out a few of these tomes, and settle in for a relaxing and inspiring reading session. 

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