Have you ever thought about whether a cookbook can go out of date?
I have to confess, this question never even occurred to me until a reader asked it in a comment on one of my Retro Sundays posts.
And so I thought I'd throw this question out to my 2,500 followers on Twitter to see what kinds of thoughts might emerge. And my followers responded with a truly insightful discussion (and at least a small amount of evidence that Twitter isn't as narcissistic as everybody says it is). Read on to see what they said, and as always, share your thoughts in the comments!
1) I would say no...not the good ones at least. Recipes are timeless - aren't they? @nithyadas
For my part, I don't necessarily agree with this: for every timeless recipe, there's a Betty Crocker-esqe cookbook needlessly spiked with much salt and fat (ironically, the affiliate link here is to this book's tenth edition. I rest my case: not every recipe--or cookbook--ages well).
2) Each time I look at Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook it seems new to me. I'd never want to be without it. @cindyshay123
I couldn't agree more, but even the great Mollie Katzen updated her own cookbook...twice. Do you think she agrees or disagrees?
3) My favorite go to book is from '59. @HeatherHAL
4) I would agree with that. A lot of cookbooks don't expire. I still reach for my Joy of Cooking. @eatthelove
5) I have some cookbooks from the 50's and 60's, the food is heavier but there are still gems I use in them. @HeatherHAL
Bottom line: recipes you love are recipes you love--no matter how old they are. My precious Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen came out in 1984, and yet it's a timeless (and gloriously unhealthy) cookbook if there ever was one. Our copy of The New Vegetarian Epicure dates from 1972 and our excellent Laurel's Kitchen is "new" from 1976. Both books are immortal.
And last year when we were leaving Chile, we received a wonderful gift: a precious piece of Chile's culinary history in the book Cocina Popular, a traditional cookbook first printed in 1964 (warning: don't buy it unless you can read Spanish).
But then again, there are other equally reasonable sides to this issue:
6) When they talk about a newly popular fish called orange roughy which is now on some endangered lists, you know it's outdated. @eatthelove
7) Copy like "One of the hottest restaurant trends..." in any cookbook is going to sound dated in a few years. @eatthelove
8) cookbooks, like recipes, definitely go out of date! Best become culinary heritage! @cachandochile
9) cookbooks can be out of date! best eg. Is joy of cooking.1970 version has recipes for possum and squirrel while 1990 doesn't @CarleneFutureRD
Wait: how could they pull out the recipes for possum and squirrel???
10) Some absolutely do. Like all the miracles of microwave cookery cookbooks from the 80's. @tjotjoc
11) I have an amazing vintage 1960s knox gelatin cookbook. It's stunning. Gelatin tuna fish salad anyone? @eatthelove
...Somehow, I'm thinking that last cookbook was never "in date" in the first place.
Readers, what do you think? Do cookbooks ever go out of date? Why or why not?
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