Last night, a group of us gathered to discuss our favorite Dewey decimal category – the cookery books at 641.5. Folks like us keep cookbooks on the nightstand. And what ardent fans they were, too. Two patrons confessed to cookbook collections well into the hundreds and growing. Several brought their most beloved books for show and tell. All agreed that it’s becoming ever more difficult to organize and manage the influx of recipes from a new variety of sources: magazines, e-mail, web sites.
KPL director Ann Rohrbaugh provided the details that fans love: how cookbooks have changed over the years and how she goes about selecting which one to acquire for the library. If cookbooks have increased in price, she said, it’s likely due to the addition of color photography. There are narrower subject categories than ever before – not just ethnic cuisine, but books devoted to such subjects as number of ingredients, kitchen appliances, weight loss, disease, celebrities and celebrity chefs.
Along with the ever-growing population of cookbooks are two emerging related genres. Food memoirs are biographical and categorized the 921s (My Life in France by Julia Child comes to mind). Food fiction, such as Like Water for Chocolate or Chili con Corpses, will be shelved by author's last name.
While KPL’s collection of cookery books is vast, it’s a mere drop compared to the some 24,000 cookbooks published each year. Ann uses book reviews and a dash of intuition to make selections which includes award winners and other highly praised titles. And if there's something we don't have, we'd love to hear your suggestion. For those times when you're in the mood to watch instead of read, KPL also offers cookery videos in DVD and VHS formats.
Last night's program was a tasty discussion that whetted our appetites. Some headed to a restaurant for dinner. I went home and baked a batch of scones.
Cookery category in KPL catalog