Chalk it up to our food porn obsession. Have you noticed a common theme in cookbooks lately?
That they’re terrible?
Certainly in this world where we over-consume on food media–books, reality television, magazines–and yet couldn’t give a damn about actually being in the kitchen, there’s some saturation, and saturation means that not all cookbooks are created equal. At least according to French-born restaurateur, one of leaders of the UK’s modern restaurant cuisine, and acclaimed food writer Michel Roux Sr.
The author of best selling cookbooks himself recently talked to the Daily Mail about his opinion on the current state of cookbooks, stating that “One in two are absolute rubbish. They’re not worth the paper they’re printed on. The rest are hit and miss – you may occasionally find a good recipe, but it’s a gamble. It’s appalling.”
Are today’s cookbooks complete rubbish?
Depends on how you look at it. On one hand, the day and age of food blogs has opened up the industry to a wealth of talented writers and food lovers that once would have had a hard time working their way to a small and exclusive world. On the other hand, anyone else sick of food porn, mediocre recipes and bad TV chefs that happen to have a good PR person?
We’re addicted to food media. As Michael Pollan points out in his recent book “Cooked”, we’re busy watching people cook food on television but we spend less and less time in the kitchen. In fact, since the mid-sixties, the amount of time spent preparing meals in the U.S. has fallen by half, to about 27 minutes per day. The average American on the other hand, watches almost three hours of television a day. Not that all of it is cooking shows, but you get the idea.
It’s those obsessions with reality television and celebrity chefs that have driven the spike in bad cookbooks says Roux Sr, claiming that TV personality chefs are essentially young whipper snappers. “How can a chef at 30 or 35 – even if he’s a good one – write a cookery book? He knows nothing. So what’s in that book can only be a mish-mash of what he’s seen in other books and ideas gained from other people. It’s a mockery. Like writing your autobiography at the age of 30 – what have you really got to say?”
Then again, you could argue that the market has made it easier for fresh approaches to food, and because of it, when it comes to food media, we’re not stuck in a world dictated by the tenants of the one and only French cuisine.
Do you agree? Are cookbooks going downhill?
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