Betcha didn’t know that Sherlock Holmes had five different cookbooks? Bet he didn’t know either, what’s more I bet Mrs. Hudson didn’t know. We all know about Alice B. Toklas’ cookbook, but did you know that there’s a Hemingway Cookbook? A Steinbeck Cookbook? How about a Jane Austen Cookbook? Mind you, NONE of these people spring to mind as people most happy puttering around in a kitchen. But that doesn’t stop people from pretending or publishing for that matter.
This rant isn’t really about literary cookbooks, those cookbooks that are a better read than most NYT hypermoderns (without them some of us would never get up at two in the morning to whip up a three egg omelet); it’s about those cookbooks that masquerade as part of a writer’s opus. Those that exist only to give the avid Aubrey & Maturin fanatic a Christmas present, something they can’t possibly cook out of but that looks impressive as hell when they unwrap it.
By far the most cookbooks cum literature have attached themselves to kids book series like limpets. EVERY storybook series that warms the cockles of your heart also has recipes for self same cockles: Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Wizard of Oz, Beatrix Potter, Secret Garden, Winnie the Pooh, Little House buy the cookbook, Anne of Green Gables cooks Cajun….Is it just me or does anyone else find Peter Rabbit’s Cookbook a little unsettling? And just how many of these things have edible recipes in them? The thought of curds and whey makes me gag and unless Walker’s Shortbread has gone out of business in the last ten minutes my guess is not many of these are going to ever see the top of a kitchen counter.
Yet we buy them…well, cause they’re cool.
At first glance there seems to be a cookbook for every fan base; Barbara Pym’s, Frances Parkinson Keyes’, Marjorie Rawlings’, Mark Twain’s, George Bernard Shaw’s, Pearl S. Buck’s, Len Deighton’s. The mystery crowd seems to lean towards cookery at the drop of a corpse, Nero Wolf’s and Lord Peter Wimsey’s, and for some reason ones written by cats …the Cat Who whatevered, Sneaky Pie’s Cookbook (to me a cat lover’s cookbook has a really bad ring to it). But upon further study I find there are some areas that aren’t being catered to:
Where is my Mike Hammer Cookbook? “meat, potatoes, coffee, meat, potatoes, whiskey, cigarettes.”
Where is the Proust Cookbook? “1001 Recipes For Madelines.”
Where is my Sylvia Plath Cookbook? “preheat oven to 350, insert head, remove when done.”
Where is the Tolstoy Cookbook? “potato soup prepared with or without weevils.”
Where is Emily Dickinson’s “Home Cooking for Agoraphobes.”?
And there just HAS to be a Agatha Christie Dinner Party Cookbook; how else would you ever get anyone to sit down with a detective at the table?
Hemingway and Steinbeck have cookbooks in their name but why not “F. Scott Fitzgerald: a Bar Guide”?
But then we would have to have one each for Brendan Behan, Charles Buchowski, and Dashiell Hammett.
I think Ms. Parker would prefer “How to Order Room Service….and Bar Guide.”
What? no Tolkien cookbook? Is it because Hobbit’s all taste like chicken?
What would a Hunter Thompson cookbook be like? I suppose just a DIY guide to psychopharmacology.
I would say there is as yet no Harry Potter Cookbook, but I haven’t checked for one in the last twenty minutes, so I could be wrong.
Quick n Dirty list of Biblio-cookbooks:
Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, Toklas, Alice B. Barbara Pym Cookbook, Pym, Barbara Bookmen’s Trio: Ventures In Literary Philandering, Blumenthal, Walter Hart Books And My Food: Literary Quotations And Original Recipes For Every Day In The Year, Cary, Elisabeth Luther Cat Who Cookbook, Murphy, Julie Cross Creek Cookery, Rawlings, Marjorie Dining With Sherlock Holmes, Rosenblatt, Julia Carlson Gone With The Wind Cookbook, Mitchell, Margaret Green Eggs And Ham Cookbook, Seuss, Dr. Len Deighton’s Cookstrip Cookbook, Deighton, Len Lillian Beckwith’s Hebridean Cookbook, Beckwith, Lillian Lobscouse And Spotted Dog: A Gastronomic Companion To The Aubrey/maturin Novels, Grossman, Anne Chotzinoff Madame Maigret’s Recipes, Courtine, Robert J. Mary Poppins In The Kitchen, Travers, P. L. Mrs. Rasmussen’s Book Of One-Arm Cookery, Lasswell, Mary Mud Pies And Other Recipes: A Cookbook For Dolls, Winslow, Marjorie Pearl S. Buck’s Oriental Cookbook, Buck, Pearl Peter Rabbit’s Cookery Book, Emerson, Anne Plots & Pans: Recipes And Antidotes From The Mystery Writers Of America Webb, Nancy And Jean Francis, Intro By Isaac Asimov Sherlock Holmes Cookbook Or Mrs. Hudson’s Stoveside Campanion, Wright, Sean Sherlock Holmes Victorian Cookbook, Bonnell, William Sneaky Pie’s Cookbook For Mystery Lovers, Brown, Sneaky Pie Star Trek Cookbook, Phillips, Ethan Star Wars Cookbook Wookie Cookies & Other, Davis, Robin Stone Soup To Bagels: A Children’s Literature Cookbook, Amster, Barbara The Alice In Wonderland Cookbook, Fisher, John The Anne Of Green Gables Cookbook, Macdonald, Kate The Beatrix Potter Country Cookery Book, Lane, Margaret The Book Lover’s Cookbook: Recipes Inspired By Celebrated Works Of Literature And The Passages That Feature Them The Boxcar Children Cookbook, Blain, Diane The Charles Dickens Cookbook, Marshall, Brenda The Frances Parkinson Keyes Cookbook, Keyes, Frances Parkinson The George Bernard Shaw Vegetarian Cookbook, Bates, Dorothy R. The Hemingway Cookbook, Boreth, Craig The Jane Austen Cookbook, Black, Maggie The Literary Gourmet, Wolfe, Linda The Little House Cookbook, Walker, Barbara The Lord Peter Wimsey Cookbook, Ryan, Elizabeth Bond The Louisa May Alcott Cookbook, Anderson, Gretchen The Mark Twain Library Cookbook The Nancy Drew Cookbook, Keene, Carolyn The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, Stout, Rex The Pooh Cookbook, Ellison, Virginia H. The Secret Garden Cookbook, Burnett, Frances Hodgson The Sesame Street Cookbook, Tornborg, Pat The Sherlock Holmes Cookbook, Mills, Charles A. The Sherlock Holmes Cookbook By Mrs Hudson, Cradock, Fanny The Star Wars Cookbook Darth Malt And More Galactic Recipes, Frankeny, Frankie The Steinbeck House Cookbook, Hillyard, Kay The Storybook Cookbook, Macgregor, Carol The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz Cook Book, Bayley, Monica Walt Disney’s Winnie-The-Pooh Cookbook, Illustrated By Color Wind In The Willows Cookbook, Boxer, Arabella Winnie The Pooh’s Teatime Cookbook, Milne, A. A.
Wond’rous Fare, Stallworth, Lyn