Hard-To-Find Cookbooks
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  1. #1
    Founder Sara Noel's Avatar
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    Default Hard-To-Find Cookbooks

    Sometimes, the best cookbooks are the ones that are hard to find. They are not the celebrity chef cookbooks, they are the community cookbooks, the spiral bound cookbooks, the out-of-print ookbooks or the ones released by a certain manufacturer to help show you all that you can do with their product!

    You can find books in a variety of places: yard sales, garage sales, estate sales, book fairs, flea markets, used bookstores, library book sales, online resources and more!

    Recently, I received, as a gift, some of these very cookbooks. A friend of mine went out to a community yard sale and found some gems for me to love. They were "Fast and Delicious Cookbook" (1981) by Nitty Gritty Productions, "A Different Kettle of Fish: Traditional Seafood Recipes From Down East Kitchens" (1981), "Omelette Originals"(1970) by Irena Chalmers and "My Fair Lady Cooks" (1964) by Emma Dempster.

    Each one of these books looks well-loved and even includes notes and bookmarks from the previous owners who loved certain recipes. Each book has its own history too, which will remain a mystery to me.

    Estate sales are excellent too. When an elderly person passes away, sometimes, the children are forced to sell everything. There could be a gem or two waiting for you that could have been their mother's!

    When I was young, my mother had two cookbooks from the Time/Life Foods of the World series (late 1960's, early 1970's), "Latin American Cooking" and "The Cooking of the British Isles". Whilst in a used bookstore in San Francisco, I found "Latin American Cooking" for really cheap! I bought it, and it brought back memories of my mother's cooking. It was a steal too, as most books in used bookstores are half the price of the original!

    Then, recently, wanting to add to that very collection, I found some at eBay! So, I placed a bid on them and built up my collection! And just to let you know, you can, at eBay, have messages sent to you of anything that matches your description. Like in my example, I said to email me whenever a "Foods of the World" book came in. Sometimes, it wasn't what I was looking for, other times, it was the series, but wrong book. And then, there were the times I found what I was looking for!

    Bookcrossing.com is a place where book lovers gather and "release" their books into the "wild". That means that once they are done reading the book, they actually leave it somewhere on purpose, in the hopes that someone will find it, pick it up and read it. Each of these books have been given an ID number, so if you find one, you can log in to Bookcrossing.com and say you found it. The idea is to re-release the book and see how far it goes! Other members on Bookcrossing, trade books.

    After I joined Bookcrossing, I found that one of the members was just about to release some of the Foods of the World series, and I contacted her just in time! After some negotiations, we arranged that in exchange for postage, she would mail me the books!

    I, also, belong to a Yahoo!-based group entitled "CookbooksEtCetera". This is a group where like-minded cookbook lovers gather together and share information about cookbooks, where to find them, which ones are their favorites and who collects them. Larry A. Willraith even adds that "they are a nice bunch of people". There, I, also, found one of the volumes of the Foods of the World series and bought it from a member for really cheap.

    Some other excellent ideas would be to go to your local library.Periodically, they have sales of books that are no longer being checked out, so they can make room for more! Local churches, organizations and libraries as well, often come up with a community cookbook as a fundraiser. Look in your area for this. These books make excellent gifts for family and friends who visit you, or perhaps a family or friend who has moved from the area.

    You can also find books at some online sites:
    AddAll Book Search,
    Edward R. Hamilton,
    Jessica's Biscuits (search for out of print),
    Tom Folio, and

    Para Publishing is excellent if you are looking for self-published authors.

    There are also specific book dealers that deal with rare books. Once, I utilized this service to find a book. Check out these resources too!

    Check out university libraries too! The University of Massachusetts at Amherst Library has a collection of community cookbooks dating back to 1886! You may not be able to buy any of these, but if you are in the area, they may be worth a look! Also, check out the Michigan State University. They are working on a project to make cookbooks from the 1800s and the early 1900s available online!

    The Culinary Historians of New York also has many resources where you can find cookbooks.

    Also, try searching at The Library of Congress. You never know what you could find there!

    Just because Emeril Lagasse did not write it, or that it does not have glossy color photographs may not make it the perfect cookbook. Sometimes, it is a book that evokes memories from the past, when simpler times brought feelings of comfort and secuity. Next time you see a garage sale, check out their books! You never know what you may find.

    This article was originally published at Suite101.com. For complete links, please go:

    --->Many thanks to the people that helped me with the resources in this article: FoodWriting, L-Cookers, and CookbooksEtCetera.<---

    Jennifer A. Wickes is a freelance food writer, researcher and cookbook reviewer. She has written several eBooks, and has had numerous articles and recipes in printed publications, as well as on-line. She is working on her first cookbook. For more information about Jennifer or her work, please visit her home page: http://home.comcast.net/~culinaryjen/Home.html
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  2. #2
    Registered User KKCondrey's Avatar
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    I agree....my favorite cookbooks are ones that we got at church, work and one my school FHA made.
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