A case for avoiding search engines and embracing well-loved, sauce-stained, taped-together, fall-open-to-someone's-favorite-dish recipe collections
If you're reading this, then you're obviously not reading a book. Do you care? Does it matter that up until recently you'd have been reading either a book or a magazine or a newspaper to get your daily fix of food writing? Or any sort of writing for that matter.
I think about it a lot. I write books, and still continue to write for magazines—although a lot less than I used to. But like you, I'm going to words on paper a lot less than I used to for all sorts of stuff.
Which is ironic, since words on paper are what got me to Italy in the first place. I came to Florence to read 16th-century scribbles in the Medici archives, while researching my dissertation on gardens. Lists of construction materials, shopping lists, household accounts. Words on paper.
But here I am, years later, and I realized that even if I still turn to paper when reading novels, in my daily life I am more likely to turn on my laptop, iPad, or iPhone to get inspiration for dinner or find out which foreign country is bursting into flames.
The last few days I've been thinking a lot about how I've abandoned many of my cookbooks, and this made me sad. I especially got to thinking of my favorite ones, after we went to dinner the other night at my friend Sienna's. Sienna is a fabulous cook (and runs culinary tours here in Rome) and is completely capable of inventing her own recipes. But she is just as likely to turn to books—rather than a recipe search engine—for inspiration.