cookbooks as art collections

today i stopped into barnes and noble to return a book that i had gotten for christmas. the book was nice, but after last summer when i had whittled away my possessions and sold about 2/3 of the books i owned, i've been thinking more and more about what the difference between a regular old book and the sort of book that you keep forever. substance and topic, is, of course, probably the most important reason, but on the subject of photo books and cookbooks, you need a little something more.

when i was younger i had one of the photo books that had one page for every famous photographer and photographer for the past 200 years. it sounds pretty impressive, but the book was tiny, the pages were small. what was the point? i could search on my computer to find a larger image if i wanted to look at photographs. but there is something about holding an image in your hands and being able to admire for a while. i've been looking at more and more cookbooks and found that, although most have similar food photography, there are plenty that have beautiful cover designs and/or astounding images hiding inside.

look at these two cookbooks. these are beautiful. they're beautiful. i want them in my kitchen, just because they would look so lovely stacked up next to the cutting boards. i want them.

and then i saw this book, and i knew the other two would have to wait. NOMA, time and place in nordic cuisine. it's a phaidon book, so obviously the cover is well designed. but when i opened it up, i began to wonder if it had been misplaced. the images inside were far too beautiful to be for a cookbook, i thought. i mean, look at those diptychs.

but the recipes are there, along with a hand-designed fold-out map of the nordic region, diary entries from rené redzepi, the head chef and owner of NOMA restaurant in copenhagen.

(images via ditte isager)

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