Monday, April 04, 2011

Cookbooks—I'm Slipping, Or Am I

This morning, I was pondering a purchase of a new cookbook I have discovered. I read about it the other day in an article that so thoughtfully extolled its lemon icebox pie that I had to bake the thing immediately. That's another story, but I did want the entire cookbook—Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose. In my pondering, I was thinking I would stop by a Borders later this week and pick up a copy. But then I noticed my iPad sitting right next to me, and then I discovered the book is available through the iBooks application complete with full-color photos, and then I bought it. Digitally. Within mere minutes. And I read three whole pages before privately scolding myself for contributing to the downfall of bookstores. What was I thinking?

As I said, I have only read three pages, but it flows like a memoir only more interesting. And the tone and language and the recipes tug at my southern heart strings. Even the title does that. One of my favorite sounds as a child was the sound of my grandmother's screen door smacking the wood frame as someone would enter the house and shout, "Hey." And one of my favorite taste memories is of sweet tea drunk from a Ball jar while sitting just the other side of that screen door. I'm going to like this book, I believe, even if I never cook a thing from it besides the lemon pie.

But here's what I miss already? I can't dog-ear the pages or stick ragged bookmarks in the pages I want to come back to or slop ingredients on it. I suspect if I were slop Karo syrup, cornbread batter or pimentos on my iPad, I'd have more than a mess to deal with. And I can't put the book on the shelf with the other cookbooks I have. And I have many of them. See, here are the ones I use most often (note; there are six Ina Garten books to the right of these). I keep them on a shelf above my washer and dryer just steps away from the kitchen:

And here are the others that have been banished to the basement shelves because they are too many to keep in the laundry room.

Every one of these is dog-eared and smeared and filled with bits of paper. Some of them hold recipes I have found online and printed and then stuck in between pages. When I open up the cookbook, these pages fall out, and I am delighted: "Oh, THAT'S where I put that recipe."

I won't be able to do that with my digital copy of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, but I'm willing to see if there are new and unimagined benefits to owning it on an iPad. We'll see.


savannah said...

mr. moose gave me a gift card from barnes & noble and for a second i thought, yes! i'll buy a nook and buy ebooks when i'm traveling and then, it dawned on me, i LIKE carrying a book or 2 and magazines when i travel. i like having a book in my purse when i know i'll have to wait. anyway, i took my new john besh cookbook with me when we drove to charleston just in case we stopped at the farmers market in bluffton...

dive said...

You can never have enough cookbooks, Robyn.
You really must get a hard copy of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea because a cookbook isn't a cookbook unless it is dog-eared and stained with experimental recipe detritus.

Ana Raquel said...

As the proud owner of Ana Raquel's Private Culinary Library, with over 6,000 cookbooks, and in which Martha Foose's book is part of, I totally enjoyed reading your post!!!
My books are full of marginalia and pictures that I have added, which are priceless and could not be appreciated in an electronic book. Just like you said, how could I take a look at the beautiful displays of my books, grab them and feel them through one of those electronic books??? I am sure I will get one of them, for other reasons, but I will keep my collection and add more extraordinary books to it!!!
Ana Raquel