Cook on


There’s something so charming and nostalgic about the time-faded, dog-eared pages of grandma’s favourite cookbook – the odd handwritten note scrawled over the margins reminding you to “try with a splash of this or a dash of that” and the index stained with her famous spaghetti sauce.

As I was preparing to move out of a dorm room (shudder) and into my first apartment of my own a few years back, my mom sent me away with a good fifty extra pounds of cookbook weight in my suitcases. I remember thinking they would just end up collecting dust in the corner of a dark cupboard.

And sure enough, for a while, they did.

The first few weeks of freedom from terrible cafeteria food I spent dolling out cash I didn’t really have on overpriced deli sandwiches and donairs, as students do. I didn’t think about cooking real food until I actually started to miss home. Funny enough, it was around this time of year, when the weather was starting to cool off and the light dimming on summer.

Those were the days I brushed the dust off the old cookbooks. There is nothing quite as satisfying and comforting as spending a cool, autumn afternoon preparing a familiar recipe, then sitting down at the table to enjoy the fruits of your labour. And it’s amazing how certain foods can take you back to very specific moments in your past. To this day, whenever someone dishes up macaroni with ground beef and stewed tomatoes, I think of my dad. It’s certainly not gourmet but it sticks to your ribs and it’s his specialty.

This past Sunday I got into discussion on the topic of cooking and nostalgia with my mom and a friend of our family.

Are tablets and apps killing grandma’s cookbook? We all wondered.

Surprisingly, they’re not. In the age of digitization and instant gratification, cookbooks are still going strong.

According to Publishers Weekly, hardcover cookbooks still outsell all other types of cookbooks – including e-books. On top of that, nearly 20 per cent of the buyers are under the age of 30.

The generation I thought would be most likely to seek recipes with the click of the mouse or the swipe of a thumb, is actually still keeping cookbooks in their kitchens.

In fact, in 2010, Jamie Oliver’s Thirty Minute Meals charged past the Guinness Book of World Records to break all book sales records and become not only the best selling cookbook of all time but the best selling non-fiction book of all time, too.

And I can’t help but hope when today’s younger generation is old and grey and has tried and tested every last 30-minute meal out there, their cookbooks will be passed on, too.

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