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Tell Delia that specialty cookbooks are alive and well


Last week, the doyenne of British food writers Delia Smith was awarded the Companion of Honour for services to cookery at Buckingham Palace.

At the time, Delia – who is deservedly known by one name to millions of people rather like Madonna, Adele and Bono – said that cookbooks were dead because recipes were now so easy to find online. “There is not the need now to keep books. I think there are far too many of them, actually,” she said.

Delia’s Complete Cookery Course

Now, Delia is close to my heart. When my family moved to Canada from the UK, we only brought nine books with us and one of them was Delia’s Complete Cookery Course. But her comments didn’t quite add up from where AbeBooks.co.uk stands, so we analysed a complete day of sales – November 14, the day Delia went to Buckingham Palace to pick up her award.

The cookery books displayed below were sold during that 24-hour period and these are just the English language cookbooks. There were also sales of recipe books in French, Spanish, German, and Italian that we didn’t take into account.

Cookbooks appear to be alive and well, with demand for books that offer recipes beyond regulation meals and general cuisine. There is a need for specialty recipe books that serve a specific need or purpose. Some may be out-of-print or difficult to find. Another general purpose cookbook from some celebrity or other will almost certainly be forgotten within a couple of years.

The list includes cookbooks that cover Nordic, Catalan, Turkish, Nepalese, French, African, Spanish, Indian, Texan, Malaysian, Irish, Hungarian, French, Jewish, Russian, and Thai cuisine.

The specific foods covered include spam, sriracha, dried beans and rhubarb (the wonderfully named Rhubarbaria: Recipes for Rhubarb by Mary Prior), as well as vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.

Books dedicated to particular cooking methods cover slow cookers, pressure cookers, barbecues, woks, cast-iron cookware, food processors, and Dutch ovens (which is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid).

There are cookbooks for kids, dieters, people on a budget, people going on picnics, banquet hosts, and people interested in eating like the Victorians and folks from Medieval times (presumably nobility rather than peasants).

Celebrity-related cookbooks sold that day span the Grateful Dead, Paul Newman, Nero Wolfe, Redwall, and Dr Seuss. Thankfully, several copies of Delia’s Complete Cookery Course were sold but few books from TV chefs were being purchased. Nothing from Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson.

And the bestselling recipe book of that day? The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book. This book was first published in 1954. Alice B Toklas was Gertrude Stein’s partner and the book is partly autobiographical. It famously includes a recipe for hashish fudge.

Here’s the list:

The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash (1982)

The Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout (1973)

A Catalan Cookery Book by Irving Davis & Patience Gray (1969)

The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson (2015)

Cook It in Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All by Cook’s Country (2016)

Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin (2016)

Cooking Your Way to Good Health: More Delicious Recipes from Doug Kaufmann’s Anti-fungal Diet by Doug Kaufmann & Denni Dunham (2011)

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (2010)

McCall’s Cook Book: The Absolutely Complete Step-By-Step Cooking and Serving Guide by McCall’s Food Editors & Richard Roseblum (1963)

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman (2017)

Joys of Nepalese Cooking by Indra Majupuria (1997)

Brunetti’s Cookbook by Roberta Pianaro & Donna Leon (2010)

Marion Brown’s Southern Cook Book (1980)

How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman (2013)

Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook by Al J. Reagan & Nell B. Nichols (1959)

The Art of African Cooking by Sandy Lesberg (1971)

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 (1983) by Julia Chid

Cast-Iron Cooking: Recipes & Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Cast-Iron Cookware by Rachael Narins (2016)

An Irish Country Cookbook: More Than 140 Family Recipes from Soda Bread to Irish Stew, Paired with Ten New, Charming Short Stories from the Beloved Irish Country Series by Patrick Taylor (2017)

The Meat Cookbook by Nichola Fletcher (2014)

The Constance Spry Cookery Book by Constance Spry & Rosemary Hume (2014)

The Grandma’s Attic Cookbook by Arleta Richardson (1993)

The Redwall Cookbook by Brian Jacques (2005)

Plant-Based Cookbook: Good for Your Heart, Your Health, and Your Life; 200 Whole-food Recipes by Trish Sebben-Krupka (2015)

The Frugal Paleo Cookbook: Affordable, Easy & Delicious Paleo Cooking by Ciarra Hannah & Melissa Joulwan (2014)

The Cape Malay Cookbook by Faldela Williams (1988)

Betty Crocker Cookbook (2016)

The Hairy Bikers Cookbook by Dave Myers & Si King (2013)

Eat to Live Quick and Easy Cookbook: 131 Delicious Recipes for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health by Joel Fuhrman (2017)

Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater (2011)

Cook Now, Eat Later by Mary Berry (2014)

More Calculated Cooking by Jeanne Jones (1981)

Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli and Alice Waters (1994)

Hungarian Cookery by Fred Macnicol (1978)

New Magimix Cookbook by Marika Hanbury-Tenison (1982)

Eva Batt’s Vegan Cooking (1985)

Vegetarian Cookery (500 Recipes) by Patty Fisher (1969)

Everyday Cookery by Mrs. Beeton (1963)

Cooking With the Dead: Recipes and Stories from Fans on the Road by Elizabeth Zipern (1995)

Delia’s Complete Cookery Course Vol 1-3 (2007)

Slow Cooker Quick Fixes: Recipes for Everyday Cover ‘n Cook Convenience by Susan Hernandez Ray (2010)

Cook, Eat, Thrive: Vegan Recipes from Everyday to Exotic by Joy Tienzo (2012)

A Banquet on a Budget: Cooking for Weddings, Birthdays and Other Big Parties by Judy Ridgway (2016)

Cooking the Spanish Way by Elsa Behrens (1962)

Cooking and Dining in Medieval England by Peter Brears (2012)

The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book: More than 400 Recipes from Appetizers to Desserts by Better Homes and Gardens (2009)

The Calculating Cook: A Gourmet Cookbook for Diabetics and Dieters by Jeanne Jones (1980)

Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer &‎ Marion Rombauer Becker (2006)

Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Dr. Seuss by Georgeanne Brennan & Frankie Frankeny (2006)

The New Vegan Cookbook: Innovative Vegetarian Recipes Free of Dairy, Eggs, and Cholesterol by Lorna Sass & Jonelle Weaver (2001)

Dried Beans & Grains (The Good Cook, Techniques & Recipes) by Richard Olney & Carol Cutler (1982)

Cook Vegan by Richard Youngs (2001)

Cooking Light Way to Cook: The Complete Visual Guide to Everyday Cooking by Cooking Light Magazine (2013)

Dutch Oven Cooking by Ray Overton (1998)

Dutch Oven Cooking by John G. Ragsdale (2006)

The Silver Palate Cookbook by Sheila Lukins & Julee Rosso (2007)

The New Basics Cookbook by Sheila Lukins &‎ Julee Rosso (1989)

Cooking for Family and Friends: 100 Lean Recipes to Enjoy Together by Joe Wicks (2017)

A Texas Family’s Cookbook by Joseph Lowery with Donald R. Counts & Kathryn O’C. Counts (1988)

The New McCall’s Cookbook by Mary Eckley (1973)

Cook’s Country 2007 by America’s Test Kitchen (2007)

Cooking the Jewish Way by Ann Wald (1961)

Vegan Cooking For Dummies by Alexandra Jamieson (2010)

The Art of India’s Cookery: Curries, Kebabs, Festival Foods, & Other Specialties from India’s North, East, South, & West by William Irving Kaufman (1964)

Findhorn Family Cook Book by Kay Lynne Sherman (1982)

Cooking the Russian Way by Musia Soper (1961)

The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery: For Connoisseurs, Chefs, Epicures Complete With 2973 Recipes by Auguste Escoffier & Charlotte Adams (2000)

Spring and Summer: Cooking with a Veg Box by Guy Watson and Kirsty Hale (2015)

The Art of Wok Cooking from West Bend by West Bend Co (1984)

Cooking in a Bedsitter by Katharine Whitehorn (1999)

Spam – The Cookbook by Marguerite Patten (2009)

New Dieter’s Cookbook: Eat Well, Feel Great, Lose Weight by Kristi Thomas & Better Homes and Gardens (2003)

Daisy Cooks: Latin Flavors That Will Rock Your World by Daisy Martinez (2005)

Cooking with Trader Joe’s: The 5 Ingredient Cookbook by Deana Gunn & Wona Miniati (2015)

The Book of Thai Cooking by Hilaire Walden (1992)

Newman’s Own Cookbook by Paul Newman & A.E. Hotchner (1998)

The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 “Rooster Sauce” Recipes that Pack a Punch by Randy Clemens (2011)

Gracious Gator Cooks by FL Junior League of Gainesville & Angie Bowdoin (1997)

Smoke & Spice: Cooking With Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue by Cheryl Alters Jamison & Bill Jamison (2014)

Victorian Recipes by David Notley (1998)

Food and Friends: Recipes and Memories from Simca’s Cuisine by Simone Beck & Suzanne Patterson (1993)

World’s Best Recipes Cookbook by Marvin Small (1969)

Delicieux: The Recipes of France by Gabriel Gate (2017)

Malaysia: Recipes from a Family Kitchen by Ping Coombes (2017)

Rhubarbaria: Recipes for Rhubarb by Mary Prior (2008)

The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket by Marnie Hanel & Andrea Slonecker (2015)

500 Soup Recipes by Bridget Jones (2007)

101 Recipes for Kids: Tried-and-Tested Ideas by Angela Nilsen & Jeni Wright (2008)

80 Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker by Richard Ehrlich (2012)

Recipes for a Small Planet by Ellen Buchman Ewald (1985)

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