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Cooking by the Book

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I love books. Skipping the typical route of formal culinary school, I sought a lot of my early education from them. These days, I don't afford myself nearly enough time for reading, and to be honest, when I do, they tend to be books with more pictures than text. Even in this brave new digital world where we access so much information with the click of a mouse, I still can't help but enjoy sitting down with the real deal. For a time, I actually swore off acquiring cookbooks for fear that the latest trendy tome might influence me too much. I got over it, of course, and I now see many of the few hundred books on my shelves as snapshots of my own evolution as a cook. With last week's release of Eric Ripert's latest book, Avec Eric (yes, he is my boss, and yes, I helped), I've added one more to the collection. Scanning the spines, there are several that beg to be cracked one more time, titles that serve as either important references or simply motivation to get into the kitchen. I could easily cite dozens, but below I share ten personal essentials.
Larousse Gastronomique
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Larousse Gastronomique: This hefty volume, along with a durable chef's knife, was among my first investments as a young cook. An encyclopedic treatment of French cuisine from abaisse to zuppa inglese, Larousse remains a rock-solid standard I still reference to this day. And as modern cooking evolves at an exponential rate, it's also an important document of the increasingly obscure, the rare classics in danger becoming forgotten.
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So, enough about me. What books have made you rethink food and become a better cook?


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