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« El Bulli's nori croquant, little voices, and my kitchen alter ego | Main | El Bulli's vanilla transparent fruit pâté is neither transparent nor fruit... discuss! »

March 21, 2006

The Recipe Collection Meme


Aside from the obvious implications for my fantasy life ("You will be silent!"), perhaps the greatest fringe benefit of being married to a real, dyed in the wool, glasses wearing, Dewey decimal system-knowing sexy librarian is that there is always someone to organize our cookbooks and recipes.

You see, I have the organizational ability of a chimp, and an untrained chimp at that.  My "organizational system" relies entirely on my ability to remember on which floor, chair, table, or counter I last left a cookbook or recipe.  Rachel's organizational system, on the other hand, relies on, well, reliable things: file folders, shelving units, and the flawless consistency of the order of the Roman alphabet.  She's tried repeatedly to impress upon me the importance of keeping things in their place, but I'm still a work in progress.

All this is my little way of introducing my responses to the recipe meme.  You see, without Rachel my recipe collection would be several large piles of cookbooks and countless sheets of sauce-splattered paper.  Because of her, my recipe collection is several large shelves of cookbooks and a well organized binder of sauce-splattered paper.

I was actually tagged twice for this meme.  The first person to tag me was Tania, from The Candied Quince.  Tania has the same passion for food that Rachel and I do, and, more importantly, she shares a genuine love for our hometown, Toronto, and the diversity of appetites it encompasses.  I was also tagged by The Blog That Ate Manhattan, perhaps the most unconventional food blog around.  You see, TBTAM is a Manhattan obstetrician, and her blog isn't just about food, it's also about the challenges she encounters in her practice.  Where else can you go to read about making scones and making babies?

Without further ado....

Where do you obtain the recipes you prepare?

I'd say I get about half my recipes from the web, especially Food Network, Food Network Canada, and, and the other half from cookbooks.  Though I own many cookbooks, I've become a real Toronto Public Library junkie over the past few years thanks to a certain librarian. Depending on which yardstick you use, the Toronto Public Library system is the largest in North America (take that, New York!), and it has an extensive collection of cookbooks.  For example, I currently have borrowed copies of Gourmet; Bon Appetit; Anthony Bourdain's, Les Halles Cookbook; Nigella Lawson's, How To Eat; Anna del Conte's, Gastronomy of Italy; Nobuyuki Matsuhisa's, Nobu: The Cookbook; and I just finished reading Rudolph Chelminski's sombre biography of three-star chef Bernard Loiseau, The Perfectionist.

How many times have you looked at a cookbook in a store and wished you could give it a test run before deciding to buy it?

That's what I get to do with just about every cookbook in my collection, sucka!

How often do you cook a new recipe?

Way more often than I should.  I love trying new things and experimenting in the kitchen.  With my usual taste for adventure and my recent El Bulli cookbook acquisition, I'm trying several new recipes each week.

Where do you store your favourite recipes?

I store my favourite recipes everywhere: on my desk at work, on our desk at home, in the kitchen, on the dining room table, you name it.  Rachel, on the other hand, created a lovely tabbed binder to hold the many sheets of paper I produce.  Most of the recipes are there.

I also have a large recipe directory on our computer.  This is my one sacrifice to the gods of organization, though every file on our hard drive is really just another piece of paper waiting to be scattered hither and yon in our home.

How large is your recipe pile?  Is it organized?  How?

Well, there are currently seventy-nine files in the recipe folder on our computer, and several dozen more in our recipe binder.  The binder is organized by category: apps, meat, fish, pasta, desserts, etc.

What is the oldest recipe in your to try pile?

Yeah, right.  The answer to that question requires a level of organizational ability I do not possess.

Are you really ever going to make all those recipes in your to try pile?

Insofar as the "to try" pile grows faster than the "tried" pile, no damn way.

Do you follow a recipe exactly or modify as you go?

The first time I make a recipe, I try to remain faithful to it.  As I see it, someone who knows way more about food than I, has given a lot of thought and consideration to that recipe, so I should at least give them the benefit of the doubt at the outset.  After that it's, "Thanks for the tip Nigella, now scram!"  Well, maybe not to Nigella, but Tony Bourdain's out on his ass!

What is one new recipe that you're scared to try?

If I'd answered this a few weeks ago, I would've said every last recipe in El Bulli: 1998-2002, but I'm feeling much more confident now, thank you.

I know Rachel is afraid I'll make Mario Batali's homemade guanciale recipe. Something about leaving meat out in the open for three weeks and the likelihood of maggots, I believe.  In my opinion, however, the benefits of guanciale outweigh the risk of larvae, but this is one discussion I cannot win.

Tag at least one new food blogger for this meme ("new" as in only blogging a few months):

I'm going to tag my friend, Ian, at Gallumphing Gourmand, the newest addition to Toronto's food blogging scene.

Tag at least one food blogger you visit regularly but never interacted with:

Why would I visit regularly and never leave comments?  Sorry, no dice.

Tag at least one food blogger you constantly visit and leave comments:

How about Béa at La Tartine Gourmande.  Béa produces wondrous dish after wondrous dish, and her blog is enriched by her beautiful photos and playful prose.

Tag anyone else you want:

This has to be Anita at Dessert First, and not just because of her passion for baking; nope, I just think it's fitting that a post that started with a librarian, end with a hand off to a person who described a previous job as a clerk at the library as "[t]he perfect job for an incorrigible bookworm."


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Bea at La Tartine Gourmande

Avec plaisir Rob! Merci! And thanks for your nice note!! AHahah, I can see that from the read of your entry, you and I have things in common. Wait until you hear what ;-)


Sounds like you organize like me! I have post-its and scraps of paper with recipes and ideas all over the house.


Everyone needs a librarian in their life!


Thanks for the tag! I always get a chuckle from your blog. Keep up the good work.


May I borrow Rachel from you? ;) So glad to see you've been putting her lovely Valentine's Day gift to work lately - I love hearing about what comes out of it.


I have to mention that an ex of mine sort of had a thing for librarians...not to worry though, he's attached now!:)

Thanks for the tag!


Rob, I'm so glad I tagged you and Rachel for this post! I knew your answers would be interesting and so entertaining to read.

I remember your guanciale post; I think that was one of the first I read on your site, and it made me love your blog on the spot.

Thanks for picking up the meme!

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