I love cookbooks.
I've got a few mainstream celebrity chef books. Particular favourites are Feast by Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater's appetite, the first Hairy Bikers' cookbook, and Jamie Oliver's Italy.
But I also love my books that cover particular geographic areas. There are few more enjoyable ways to find out about a foreign land than eating its food. I've got Indian, Thai, Polish, Hungarian, North American, Moroccan, English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, a couple of pan-African cookbooks and books that cover the Balkans, South African, Scottish, Irish, Mexican and Spanish. And Georgian, French, and Belgian.
Just listing them makes me realise how many places I'd like to cover but don't already; Korea, Jamaica, Scandinavia, West Africa, Serbia, Mozambique, New Zealand and Australia (although, oddly, the only Australian dish I can think of is the pie floater!).
I also covet books on specific ingredients and techniques. I've got books covering mince, slow cookers, canapes, pasta, baking and chicken. But I can easily persuade myself that I need books on sausage making, barbecues, potatoes, fish and, well, just about anything else.
My absolute favourite for looking at is Tito's Cookbook. I got it in Belgrade, at Tito's Mausoleum. It's fascinating, with photos of Tito meeting celebrities and world leaders- people you'd want to have dinner with, like JFK, Elizabeth Taylor, as well as those who you definitely wouldn't, like Saddam Hussein and Ceaucescu -, as well as the menu that they ate and selected recipes to try. Okay, it's maybe not the best actual cookbook in the collection, but it's a tiny glimpse into a fascinating life.
Apart from a few select titles, I'm moving the rest of my library to Kindle. But I doubt I'll ever let go of my cookery book collection. I love the photos - but there's also practical benefits too. I don't think Kindles and kitchens mix very well. My books can cope with a little bit of flour and sauce in a way that my Kindle probably can't.
Now the Boy is a little bit bigger, I'm trying to spend some time actually cooking recipes from the books, rather than just reading. I used to cook loads and lost the urge during early pregnancy, and never regained it until now. We've had jerk chicken, salmon curry, empire biscuits, chilli, a tomato and rice bake, halloumi and beetroot, feta, mint and pea tart and sweet and sour chicken.
It's all good (well, the jerk chicken and rice and beans meal wasn't the best, and gave me horrendous oniony farts. But it was worth trying, anyway). Tomorrow we are having a poached salmon salad.
I sometimes think my husband would prefer mince and potatoes though, and is too polite to say!
What are you cooking today