Sunday Sobremesa #5: How many cookbooks do you own?

Delicious shakerato from Naji Specialty Coffee

Welcome to Sunday Sobremesa, a bimonthly thread to discuss food and culture while sipping on a shaken iced coffee (or una clara1, if that’s more your style!).

This week when we were doing some organizing in our kitchen, I started to think about cookbooks. Even though cooking blogs are popular and you can find an abundance of recipes through Google or YouTube, there’s still something about owning a physical cookbook that seems special. I’ve mostly trained myself to turn to eBooks for my general reading (I’m still a sucker for a good coffee table book), but I enjoy having a cookbook in hand while in the kitchen.

I have purchased digital cookbooks, both those directly developed for online consumption and eBook copies of the real thing, and I think they do have their own merits. For one, they obviously take up less physical space (and require no dusting, one of my least favorite household chores). It’s also easier to tap a few buttons to toggle through multiple cookbooks when planning out meals for the week, rather than having to lug four or five books to the dining room table. I highly enjoy the convenience of hyperlinked recipes in the table of contents, and the ability to “go back to [insert page number here]” instead of keeping using my finger or a random object to mark my place (I’m horrible at remembering to use actual bookmarks).

At the same time, there’s something magical about cracking open a physical cookbook. The pictures read more vivid, the words more wise. I grew up with “real” cookbooks. We had a few written by actual chefs, but many from my childhood contained recipes that had been collected from the parents of my classmates at school that were then printed, bound, and sold as fundraisers for field trips or the PTA. Physical cookbooks remind me of a simpler time, like trying to remember which of the three versions of puppy chow in our school recipe book was my family’s favorite.

But enough rambling on my part; this is a sobremesa not a soliloquy! My main question for this week is a simple one: How many cookbooks do you own? If you’re curious, I own around 25 not including the eBooks that I’ve bought.

My intention of “hosting” this sobremesa every other week is not just for you guys to interact with me—although I love that part!—but also for you to interact with each other. I envision this discussion like a true Spanish sobremesa, where there are at least five different conversations going on and things sometimes get a little tangential. So feel free to not only respond to me, but to each other! Also, you don’t have to stick to the original question; if thinking of cookbooks reminds you of a funny story, a beloved dish, or lo que sea2, share it with us!

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Una clara: A popular summer drink in Spain that’s equal parts beer and lemonade (or sometimes beer and soda water).


Lo que sea: Whatever it may be