By Sofía González
It's almost dinner time, you have a full pantry and virtually no clue on what to cook. So, as usual, you type a few keywords on Google and begin browsing for ideas. What's everyone craving for? Italian? Thai? Or maybe that really elaborate fish pie recipe you bookmarked ages ago and haven't tried making it.
Half an hour later, the search has resulted in absolute failure. There are too many options. To make matters worse, everyone at home is feeling particularly indifferent to all your ideas. "Oh great", you're starting to think, "another takeout night."
"Why don't we look at the recipe books?", someone says.
Of course! Why didn't you think about them before? Fifteen minutes of skimming through your favorite pictures and stories, and there it is: tonight's dinner. Why didn't you think about it before?
We often treat online recipes and recipe books as the same thing, but they are not. Cookbooks tell the stories of the place the recipe comes from, the person or group of people that created the recipe or any particular anecdote on what makes that dish so special.
Here are 4 reasons why you should have more recipe books in your kitchen.
Cocina costarricense sin secretos by Doris Goldgewicht is a staple in Costa Rican recipe books.
Recipes Are Very Important
If a member of your family cooks and claims to never have used or never need a recipe book, we suggest to sit down for an afternoon or two, have a cup of coffee and write down every single recipe that person knows. It's very important knowledge!
The main idea behind a recipe book is replication. A dish is good if it can be replicated over and over. If it can't be done by everyone or only one person knows the process, then there isn't much point to it. This is also known as standardization.
By owning a recipe book, you're bound to make one or more recipes more than once. And that's the point of standardization. Every time you make that particular dish, it's going to taste very similar. Unless, of course, you decide to change a couple of ingredients or skip a step or two. But if you follow the recipe from top to bottom, especially if it's a well designed one, you're bound to get a similar result every single time you make it.
Any set of instructions should help you control costs. By selecting four or five recipes during the week, you are able to plan your weekly menu and buy all the food you need, ahead of time. It's a fool-proof way of controlling your finances and ensuring your meals taste great and are friendly to your pocket.
Cooking with a laptop or with a recipe book?
You Learn More About Cooking
Oh, you didn't know that you need very fresh eggs to poach them? Or that beans require to be soaked in water for 24 hours in order to soften the outer shell? These are all techniques and tips you can learn through recipe books. You don't need to try each recipe, one by one, but rather just carefully look through the pages to start learning new things, new terms, new worlds.
As Rachel Cooke puts it, "You can learn so much from reading cookbooks, and not only how to get good crackling on your pork. Turn their pages and you will see fashions waxing and waning (where once there were lashings of cream, now there is only creme fraiche and a stern lecture); social change will happen in front of your very eyes (even Jane Grigson finds herself embracing frozen peas, albeit on the grounds that it is nice to be able to eat them in December, when once there were only root vegetables, rather than because they are 'convenient', a boon to working women everywhere). "
Isabel Campabadal was winner of 2020’s Magón Prize, Costa Rica’s highest honor for contributions to Costa Rican culture.
Pushing Your Boundaries
Let's say, your fascination with Costa Rican cuisine began on your first trip to the country. You bought a recipe book to try your luck at some of the dishes you tasted at sodas and restaurants all over the country. But now, when you're alone with this new book you bought, the first thought that comes to mind is:
"Why don't I try the other recipes in the book?"
Recipe books are a great way to push your limits in terms of culinary skill and tastes. It allows you to fully explore your abilities in the kitchen, fully grasp the cuisine of a country or region and even expand your palate. Life is too short to cook the same recipes.
Understanding Your Food
You need food to survive. It keeps your body fully functional. However, you also need to select what you eat and understand why you eat it. The wrong portions or plates may have a profound effect on your body, and you’re bound to get sick quickly. This is why it is always important to know more about your food - what it does to you, where it comes from and who is in charge of making it.
Recipe books are great for this. A good recipe will provide some insight on the ingredients themselves, where they come from and why they need to be processed in a certain way. Getting to know more about what you eat makes the process of eating a lot more careful and mindful.
Any why can this be relevant? Because understanding your food helps you build a different relationship around it. It’s beyond surviving. If you truly are what you eat, understanding your food allows you to know who you are as well.Local Keeps is the best online shop for those in search of flavors, scents and stories of Costa Rica. Navigate our categories or write to us at email@example.com if you have any questions!