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John Rabe’s Cookbook Quest

Editor’s note: Our friend John Rabe, reporter and blogger for KPCC, shared this recent post with us, and we wanted to bring it to your worthy attention.

Gourmet Magazine Mourning Period is Over
By John Rabe

I’m an habitué of used bookstores. Cliff’s in Pasadena, the late Acres of Books in Long Beach, Brand Bookstore in Glendale. I buy books at these stores and usually read them, and am always looking for cookbooks, as our kitchen bookshelf attests:

For years, I’d seen the two-volume The Gourmet Cookbook for sale at these bookstores, usually several copies, and never bought one. But the day they announced the demise of Gourmet magazine last year, they all disappeared, and I kicked myself. (The magazine now lives on online.)

My mom, the late Maryann Elizabeth Rady Rabe, was a good cook who belonged to the LSSC faculty’s Gourmet Club (they took turns holding dinners with gourmet menus, a must in northern Michigan).

My mom had a huge box of Gourmet magazines. I never read them, but Gourmet reminded me of her, and when the magazine died, it felt like an old family acquaintance died … one I didn’t know especially well, but had warm feelings for, and I was mad I hadn’t thought to pick up a set of the Gourmet cookbooks when they were plentiful.

But, lo! Saturday at Brand Bookstore, they had a mismatched (1960 and 1974) set for sale for $35. I snapped it up and started reading through it that night.

I love the vignettes by artist Henry Stahlhut, sprinkled liberally through the book. (As my friend James Lileks would point out, these birds are perversely cannibalistic, in the style of Charlie the Tuna. Of the seven lives birds in evidence, only the capon seems concerned that their buddy’s legs are sticking out of a cooking pot. Maybe they think it’s a hot tub?)

To continue reading, click on over to Rabe’s blog at scpr.org.


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