5 Reasons Why We Love Cookbooks
When a recipe can be pinched from a website in seconds, why are we still so committed to buying cookbooks each year? There is obviously an enduring appeal for recipes on paper – our spare bedroom proves that! When there are enough recipes on the internet to keep an individual well-fed every day for several thousand lifetimes – I’ve asked Michael why we need ALL of these books!
It appears we are not the only household with this problem. For more than a decade, cookbooks have dominated Australian non-fiction book sales. In 2015, Nielsen BookScan reported that food and drink publications remained well above biography sales in the non-fiction category.
I’ve continuously read “that the end of print is in clear sight”. While people claim to be certain about the imminent demise of the print cookbook, I’m not so sure, and here are 5 reasons why.
1. They make great gifts
Cookbooks make remarkably convenient gifts. You don’t need to know a person well to give them a cookbook as a gift; everyone likes to eat and most people will prepare food for themselves at some point or another. Unlike a novel, you can get a pretty good sense of a cookbook’s content by flicking through it briefly. They are often visually appealing and the price is right: the $20 to $50 price tag on many cookbooks neither yells “cheapskate” nor does it break the bank.
2. Quality of the recipes
The recipes contained in cookbooks are generally easy, reliable and they taste good!
It has been claimed that the internet is far superior to cookbooks for helping people check out recipe quality. Before the internet, if you wanted to find out how good a recipe was, you had to make it yourself. Now you can Google what you are after, browse several versions and choose the one with the best user comments and ratings. But where is the fun in that? A lot of entertainment and enjoyment has been gained from some of our greatest failures! Either way, I would still argue that cookbooks offer more reliable, tried and tested recipes than some of the disasters that can be found on interesting web pages.
3. They take on a personality
Pages of cookbooks are frequently stained with sauces from recipes already ventured, and those stains enliven the books with real-world wisdom and experience. They give the books a personality – a sense of having been used and loved.
4. Readability of the recipes
Cookbooks generally offer clarity, style and consistency of language.
This is unlike recipes found on the internet (food blogs in particular- but not ours of course!), that are often rife with irritatingly poorly written recipes; that fail to give temporal or visual cues for knowing when something is finished; and that misspell ingredients and cooking techniques.
5. Aesthetic value
I would assume, given the sheer amount of cookbooks Michael has, that many were bought simply for their visual appeal. Most of them offer mouth-watering photography – or “food porn” as it has come to be known. They also provide witty or thoughtful chapter introductions and recipe headnotes; the qualities that make people enjoy cookbooks, not just as how-to guides but for their entertainment value. Along with all this, cookbooks are curated and finite. There is something comforting about a discrete object with a beginning and an end.
For those who see cookbooks as purely functional, it’s natural to imagine that they would work just as well, if not better, on an iPad. But for those of you who love cookbooks for reasons that aren’t quite so tangible, it’s impossible to believe that they will ever go away.
Written by Michaela Ward