My Life in Cookbooks: A Visit to the Rhapsody Culinary Lab

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“First, I am an amateur. If that strikes you as disappointing, consider how much in error you are, and how the error is entirely of your own devising.” –Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb.

Greetings, friends, and welcome to the Rhapsody test kitchen! I’ve moved today’s meeting to the breakfast bar for an up-close discussion of food, cookbooks and the histoire de la cuisine Rhapsodaise. This coy mangling of French is my way of saying that I’m not really going to talk about food so much as myself. Please don’t mistake this for an instructional post about serious cooking, unless you are wondering how to make Prune Whip. That we will cover.

And if you’re new to our salon, and feeling mildly alarmed, don’t fret. Just pop over to All About Me while I mix you our drink of the day: a Kir Royale (crème de cassis and Chablis). If, after a few minutes with us, you decide you really just wanted to look at recipes, they’re at Epicurious. You’re welcome.

Loyal readers will remember that we have lectured about food before at Rhapsody, from essential guidance on making vegan loaf entrees (in sum: don’t) to Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s 35 easy steps for buttering French toast. And who could forget swanning around the kitchen in our dressing gowns with Nigella Lawson?

Today, we delve into something more personal– selections from the Rhapsody Cookbook Collection, including:

  1. “Cooking in a Bedsitter” by Katherine Whitehorn, 1961
  2. “Wild in the Kitchen” by Will Jones (1961 again. I detect a theme.)
  3. “What To Cook” by Arthur Schwartz, 1992
  4. “Simple Cooking,” “Outlaw Cook,” “Serious Pig, “Pot on the Fire,” plus anything and everything else by John (and Matt) Thorne; and lastly
  5. A binder of newspaper clippings bought at an estate sale.

As a group, these items make no sense, but if I’ve learned one thing from Buzzfeed it’s that people will read anything if you present it as a numbered list, a weight-loss secret, or an arbitrary way to categorize oneself based on characters from The Breakfast Club. (Claire. And thank you for asking.)

And now that we’ve moved that important business out of the way, let’s tie on our aprons and get started! Continue reading

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