Do graphic cookbooks work better than traditional books?

 graphic cookbooks

The graphic cookbook - in which hand-drawn pictures tell a story and/or provide instruction on how to make a dish - is not a new concept. We can trace the origins to this type of cookbook to the mid 1960s, when British spy novelist Len Deighton published a collection of the black-and-white "cookstrips" he had created for the Observer newspaper. 

Until recently, the format did not receive much attention from either authors, cooks, or critis. In the last few years, several graphic books have hit the scene and and a few have been bestsellers. The most famous of these recent tomes are The Adventures of Fat Rice, Cook Korean!, and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (don't forget to enter our contest for this book; details here). While the books have their supporters, who think that the format provides great visual clues that you wouldn't normally receive, others find the graphics distracting and difficult to use. 

Charlotte Druckman of The Washington Post decided to put these three books to the test. She was looking for answer to the question of whether graphic cookbooks actually work as well as their creators believe. Druckman gave copies of the three books to friends and asked them to make a few recipes from each book. 

The results were mixed, although most of the testers had praise for Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. This book is a bit different than the others, with a cleaner aesthetic and less reliance on actual recipes. In it, the illustrations and graphics explain concepts rather than taking you through the 1-2-3-4 approach used with the other books. Some people found the illustrations in the other books to be useful and less daunting than actual food photos, which can be difficult to recreate, but others thought they were confusing. What's your take on the graphic cookbook? 


  • sir_ken_g  on  7/17/2017 at 10:16 AM

    Amusing to look at but not to cook from.

  • annmartina  on  7/17/2017 at 11:03 AM

    I have a copy of Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. I thought the concept sounded very exciting but when I received it I found the format sometimes too cryptic for me. That is the only one I've tried, but I do have all three of the above-mentioned books on my wish list.

  • Rinshin  on  7/17/2017 at 2:15 PM

    I like beautiful foods in photography.

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