A feast for the eyes

Cookbooks continue to be favorites of Half Moon Bay Library patrons. Jamie Soja / Review

Though the Half Moon Bay Library’s collection of books has been cut down due to lack of space until summer of 2018 when the new library building opens, it’s still home to a broad range of cookbooks. Beneath the computer section and next to the health section, two shelves are dedicated to cooking.

Library records show the most popular titles often focus on quick and easy cooking. “Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook from Scratch with Store-bought Shortcuts When You Need Them” by Stacie Billis, “Good Food, Good Life: 130 Simple Recipes You’ll Love to Make and Eat” by Curtis Stone, and “Fast and Easy Five-Ingredient Recipes: A Cookbook for Busy People” by Philia Kelnhofer are among the more popular titles, according to library records.

You might wonder whether cookbooks will survive the digital revolution, but, as industry insiders told the Los Angeles Times last year, there is still a place for books on the kitchen shelf. Booksellers and food industry experts told the newspaper that home cooks were weary of feature-rich apps and the questionable quality of some online content.

“Cooking essays are also popular,” said Annie Malley, Half Moon Bay Library branch manager. “(These) are stories about chefs or a type of food, but not recipe books.”

The most popular cooking essays include “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America” by Gustavo Arellano and “Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen” by David Sax.

Arellano’s book traces the history of Mexican dishes such as tamales, tacos and burritos, arguing that many foods typically thought of as Mexican originated in America. He also unearths many forgotten, traditional Mexican recipes. In Sax’s book, the decline and slow disappearance of Jewish delicatessens is examined.

Of course, cooks need recipes too. Stone’s collection of recipes includes seven chapters on light meals, dinners, sides, sweets, in the morning, snacks and drinks. Recipes range from grilled crab legs with avocado chimichurri to pan bagnat, a Nicoise-style tuna sandwich.

Other popular categories of cooking books include ethnic cuisine and healthy eating.

Mediterranean cuisine is among the most often checked out topic. Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ “The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health” and “Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies” by Meri Raffetto are two of the most commonly used recipe books at the local library. Both combine classic Mediterranean dishes like flatbreads, tabbouleh and pastas with healthy and nutritious ingredients.

Instructional guides can also be found at the library. Books covering how to use a pressure cooker, preserve foods, dry fruits, and make use of fermented foods are all popular.

“Gluten-free is a really popular topic as well as Paleo,” Malley said.

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