Cookbooks: A Love/Hate Relationship

People Eating

I love cookbooks but I don’t cook. I hate cookbooks and I’d like to learn to cook. To be fair: I can warm up spaghetti sauce and cook noodles. I can cook eggs. But anything involving a sauce, or a recipe, or anything much more complicated than a can opener—I’m pretty lost. I should learn. I really should.

So why do I love cookbooks? I love to eat. And, post-Anthony Bourdain foodie-ism, the pictures in cookbooks are better than ever. And not only are the pictures great, but the people in them often seem to be my people, relatable, like they could be my friends. While many current cookbooks are aimed at my generation, the people pictured retain a certain level of un-attainability; not only do I want to eat the food, I want to eat it off playfully chipped plates with my group of painfully hip Brooklyn friends in a loft full of natural light.

Which brings us to why I hate cookbooks: all the pictures in them are of painfully hip Brooklyn friends in a loft full of natural light, eating food off playfully chipped plates. Rarely is there a picture of a frazzled young couple trying to wrestle some reheated Mac ‘N’ Cheese down the throat of an apoplectic 4 year-old. Not that my wife and I would know anything about that.

In short, cookbooks these days are totally pretentious. And speaking of pretentious; Kinfolk is a Portland, Oregon-based magazine that is about: “Discovering new things to cook make, eat and do” and “is the lead entertaining magazine for young food enthusiasts.” I’m a young food enthusiast. Can I join the club? The founders of the magazine are a button-cute young blonde couple. I have a total crush on them. I also hate them. Though I’m sure they’re quite nice.

Kinfolk TableAnyway, Kinfolk just put out a book: The Kinfolk Table. The book is a cookbook but also explores how different people cook for and plan “small gatherings,” you know—build community through food, get back to our roots, etc. The funny thing: there are as many pictures of people in the book as there are of food; which makes sense given the aim of the book.

The book is chock full of people eating with their hands, peeking over window frames holding potted vegetables, men (all members of the same band—of course) stand around outside over a rustic cutting board eating manly-proportioned Turkey Avocado Burgers, and Singer/songwriter Alela Diane Menig is featured along with a recipe for Almond-Coconut Granola. From the quaint basket of green apples Kinfolk founder Katie Williams is holding in the photo accompanying the introduction, to the bikes, baskets, be-hair-bunned heads and be-bearded chins—these people fill me with a mix of envy and contempt. It’s all so rustic it makes me sick—and hungry.

In summation, I love The Kinfolk Table. It’s a ridiculously beautiful book. I also hate it. I can’t stop looking at it. The food in the book looks pretty good too. Maybe someday I’ll learn to make some of it.

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