I very rarely buy books. Why ever would I? Every book I want to read is here in the library so I just check it out or put it on hold and then check it out. When my loan period is up I bring it back to the library for safekeeping and I know I can come and get it again when I need it. It’s just the best system ever.
I am occasionally tempted to buy a book though if it is particularly beautiful to hold in my hands. For example, just a few weeks ago there was a fantastic book about the history of card catalogues, called The Card Catalog : books, cards and literary treasures, published with a foreword by Carla Hayden (you should really check out her Twitter account – she is @LibnofCongress – it will make your day), and I so enjoyed reading that book and then flipping through the gorgeous pages again that it seemed like it might be worth having to keep. But, I didn’t buy it.
Once in a while I find a book so charming that I check it out of the library more than once and then I think that it might just be worth it to buy a copy to save myself the trouble of coming in to check it out over and over again. Then I remember that it isn’t really that much trouble. It’s fun to come and find it on the shelves again and really, since I am reading it for the second or third time, is it really a rush job anyway? No. So I don’t buy that book even though it meant so much to me. This has happened a few times, especially with novels written about books or booksellers. Like with Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry or Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Really sensational books.
Well, in this summer’s list of Featured Titles I have found a book that is making me think I might change my ways. This might be the beginning of a whole new me. Feast: recipes & stories from a Canadian road trip is an outrageously beautiful cookbook that extends beyond that genre into coffee table book-style with photography that will knock your socks off. Maybe you will put it in your kitchen or maybe you will leave it artfully displayed in your living room to impress visitors? It is that stunning. The authors, Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller, decided that they would spend the summer of 2015 traveling across our country to write about Canada’s food, culture and the wonderful people they would meet. They have done this in a way that includes recipes, of course, but also has a warmth and sense of spirit that you don’t expect in a cookbook. The idea of ‘road trip’ comes across just as strongly as the food does. They are in love with our country and they write about it with such passion.
The recipes in Feast are wonderful, of course, and are broken down into regions and also into sections like “grazing” and “cheers”, and the instructions included with each one are very clear. I like clear directions with my recipes and they have done so every time. It’s comforting and encouraging, it’s absolute perfection. They photograph each recipe and also include images from the places that they visited to source those foods and that is where the true beauty of our country shines. This is one of the rare cookbooks where you won’t skip a single page. Say you find that an individual recipe doesn’t suit your family, maybe you are vegetarians and you won’t be interested in the Slow Cooker Moose Stroganoff, but you will want to read all about how they came to meet chef Roary MacPherson, who gave them that recipe. It’s 304 pages of great reading and it just happens to have beautiful photographs and incredible recipes.
I brought the book home, slowly turned the pages and called out to my family about the things that caught my eye like “bannock!”, “sausage rolls!”, “come look at these chickens!”, “holy cow, they went to Churchill and had apple fritters!” Generally my kids don’t love it when I do this but I did wear them down and they had to come to see what these two cookbook authors were up to. It’s beautiful from the first page, from the cover. You can, by the way, read the whole story of how they got to the final decision on the cover of their book on the website that they maintained as they traveled across the country. Check it out at edibleroadtrip.com
Their adventure began on their blog and they continue to update it with lovely posts about food and travel. It’s inspiring, vibrant writing and a wonderful way to get to know more about the two women who created this incredible book. I’ve seen many Canadian-themed cookbooks before, as I am sure so many WPL customers have, but this one stands out because they aren’t just talking about food, they are talking about our country with humour and cheer. They cover many of the foods that you think that someone might in a typically Canadian cookbook and introduce you to people in bakeries, restaurants and communities across the nation while they do it. I’m going to buy my copy and return this one for the shelves now. I hope that this doesn’t start a new personal trend and I just keep buying more books for my home. Perhaps I should start looking at bookshelf designs? I know that we have some great books on that topic (one nice choice that I’ve found on the shelves is called Bookshelves & Cabinets) if I do.
— Penny M.