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Notes on magazines

28 April 2008

Laura Gosalbo's new article in the special issue of Le Journal du Périgord


Le Journal du Périgord. Special issue April 2008


Thousands of cookbooks are renewed quickly in the new culinary sections of our bookshops; sales are increasing and the quality of publications too (1), but, Why do we buy so many cookbooks?

I adore cookbooks since I was a child. My "first love" was a book of desserts full of tasty cakes that promised me magic sensations.

Later, I learned to cook and gastronomy became my hobby and my passion. And I am not alone. Nowadays, gastronomic universe is in total effervescence: newspapers, magazines and TV of the whole world speak about it and some chefs are in the list of the most influential personalities or in the ranking of the major fortunes on earth. Culinary travel is growing also very quickly and even cinema fits the apron with the interesting Ratatouille, indicating us that the 21st century does love cuisine.

Keys to this “gastro-boom”:

1. In the middle of the cyclical fluctuations that mark the economies of the developed countries, it is indisputable that we have reached a welfare state who allows us to think about food like leisure and not as need, and at home, when we have some time, we cook to have fun, only for pleasure, as therapy to relax from the stress of modern life; we cook to seduce, to surprise, to please our friends and relatives, to travel from our kitchens far to the most exotic destinations … in short, we cook for and to be happy.

The interest for gastronomy runs close to our way of life. A growing sensibility has been generated combining cuisine, image, relations, reputation, care of body and mind. Cuisine is also intellectuality, because it is finally considered to be culture and art and the gastronomic patrimony of every country is valued, respected and it starts to be protected and recovered, inside the global market. Cookbooks show the development of societies, their changes and evolution, their particular idiosyncrasy and they are a savoury recipe to taste a bit of history.
And if we want to be trendy, we have to cook, we have to be foodies, not greedy-guts; we have to educate our palates, and update our knowledge. And cookbooks are the manuals that every apprentice and every expert need, they are not only collections of recipes anymore, but real compendiums of cooking for everybody, agreements of "I also can do it" for people who enjoy intensely their life among saucepans and around the best tables.

2. Gastronomy has turned into a media phenomenon. The battle of audiences is being cooked in the kitchens. Celebrity chefs occupy television shows in every Channel, they are big communicators and current representatives of professional and social success, like in the ancient Greece, when professional cooks were compared to the most wise persons, with a social recognition similar to that of the highest intellectual degrees of the Athenian elite. Not only programs, but thematic channels of cuisine, proliferate as one of the best formula of entertainment. With this way of promotion of high impact, Chef books turn easily into best-sellers.

3. We travel more and beyond. And in our trips, we discover other ways of understanding cuisine, we visit markets and restaurants … Gastronomic guides are, increasingly, the basis to organize the route and, once there, we buy books of local cuisine to prepare at home the flavours of our holidays or to know more about the products that we have tasted.

4. Though we do not practise as tourists, globalization is introducing, day after day, new products in our markets. Close to the daily products, we find exotic and attractive ingredients, and we need information about them and recipes to incorporate them into our diet.

5. Nouvelle cuisine buried old recipes from 19th century, but the great jump has been made with the arrival of Asian cuisines and the new applied technologies, producing an artistic and gustatory liberation, and a new creative revolution led from Roses. Feeling good "small cookers" we also do want to prepare tapas, sushis, foams… and fit everything into a “Chez Moi”Tasting Menu.

6. It seems a contradiction but the good moment of cookbooks happens in the age of Internet (2) which provides us the access to thousands of recipes, (it’s undeniable that it is a quick and effective information searching tool, which publishers must not forget to find a formula of coexistence), but, to have a book in our hands continues being warmer, closer, more romantic. One book is an unconditional, irreplaceable mate.

Many of them are great art works, with excellent photographs and elegant and vanguard designs: real objects of desire, tasty irresistible temptations that will be like a banner of our gourmand identity close to our cooking stoves and also in our library, as reading books, as “armchair” books.

These photographs stimulate our vanity, we feel like big chefs in front of the possibility of making these elaborations or even with the audacity of proposing changes, adapting them to our own creations.

In our society of the urgency, cookbooks are the perfect complement for people who do not have time to cook but, who enjoy reading about cuisine and collecting the best and/or more curious ones (3). They are like travel books, you enjoy reading them and the pleasure continues and increases afterwards, when you put into practice what you learned in their pages.

In addition they are a perfect gift, for experienced or for beginners, to cook as our grandmothers or to prepare a menu in only a few minutes, to elaborate delicious desserts or to take care of our body with healthy recipes and low calories … And back to economy, if ours is not very buoyant and we want to save, we also buy a cookbook, to stay at home and cooking instead of going out to eat (4).

At the end, cuisine is a trip, but we also can travel while sitting around our table.

1. The cookbook market has sustained a growth rate of 5 % annually since 1984 (Edouard Cointreau, Gourmand Cookbook Awards, Trendwire, October 18, 2004).

2. Also in Internet there is a gastronomic boom: recent new housings of cooking videos like and TVCocina, and the fans' most numerous blogs that show their tricks and recipes.

3. Jen Haller, the director of purchases of the bookshops Joseph-Beth (USA)

4. Publisher’s Weekly, July 28, 2003
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