Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Great Cookbook Titles

Posted By on Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 1:01 PM

I believe I mentioned that I spent the summer writing a cookbook. Sent off the manuscript in August and then edited another cookbook.

In 17 years of cookbook work, a whole lot of cookbook titles great and terrible, have crossed this desk. Naming a cookbook is a special talent, and the names have stuck with me, for better or worse. Past and Repast was one of the best, a little book put out by a historic colonial-era Episcopal church on the east coast. Wild Fare and Wise Words was a fish and game cookbook with advice and nature thoughts.

At the other end of the spectrum were the Thymes. Thyme for Dinner, Thymes Remembered, Family Thyme. Good Thymes, Thymes Past. Hard Thyme: Recipes from the Florida Penitentiary System. Haha! -- just kidding -- that's a little cookbook editor joke.

Then there were "Palette" (homophone of "palate" -- get it?) for arts organizations and other specialty books. The Cook's Palette (not bad), The Mansion's Palette (wha?), Vegan Palette, Dove's Palette.

"Bible" cookbook titles make me uneasy -- Cake Bible, Barbecue Bible. What exactly does that mean? That if you follow the directions you'll find a place in the Choir Invisible? How shallow are people who want a "bible" about .... cake? What's wrong with the word "encyclopedia," which sidesteps the whole religion issue?

Rose Levy Berenbaum's next book of cakes is coming out, and Fine Cooking magazine recently previewed it. You'll never guess the title. Heavenly Cakes. This is where that whole "bible" thing leads.

What's my favorite cookbook title? Maybe it's In the Sweet Kitchen, which is different and descriptive. Maybe it's Great Food Without Fuss, a collection of food writers' favorite simple recipes. Maybe How to Cook Everything, which manages to be biblically epic with being presumptive.

What's the worst cookbook name you've come across? And the best?

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