Why I love my cookbook club

Guest post by Tea

I’d heard of cookbook clubs — groups that gather to share dishes they’ve made from a selected book — but it wasn’t until I was invited to join one that I realized the true genius.

That day I showed up with my roasted pumpkin seed dip, from Diana Kennedy’s The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, and found a houseful of women and a tableful of gorgeous food. We spent the afternoon eating, drinking, talking, and I went home full, happy, and hooked on cookbook club.

I now look forward to our meetings, both from a culinary and community standpoint. We’ve sampled food from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse cookbooks, and are about to take on Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking. We even had a summer picnic. Along the way, I’ve developed a new group of friends who like to cook and share.

Besides the pleasure of gathering together, cookbook club has an amazing payoff. You spend an hour or two cooking, and in return you get to taste a variety of dishes. I always fall in love with some dish I never would have picked myself (who knew apple and celery salad would be so good?). Also, some members are willing to cook those crazy two-day recipes I’d never sign up for. This I consider a major bonus. And because this group is fairly relaxed, if your life is too busy for cooking, you can always just bring drinks.

I now think everyone who likes to cook—or wants to expand their cooking horizons—should have a cookbook club. It’s the best way I know to explore new cuisines, try recipes you might not otherwise, and have a great time doing so.

Convinced? Me too. Stop by this post on Tea & Cookies if you need more on the ins and outs of cookbook club.

Comments on Why I love my cookbook club

  1. Oh, wow. That sounds absolutely incredible, and definitely something I need to look into! I love cooking, and Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking is one I use a lot. The vindaloo is probably my favorite. I make two pans: one that’s bright red and super-spicy for my husband, and one that’s yellow and mild for me.

    My mother’s doing a variation of this with two friends: they’re going to watch “Eat Pray Love” and cook food from each of the cultures featured. (I’m contributing a raita to the cause!)

  2. I’d love to start something like this. However, while I’m ALWAYS willing to contribute food, help set up before and clean up after, I don’t think I could have a group of people at my tiny apartment. Any ideas on how to start a cookbook club for when you cannot be the host?

    • Good question, Nikki. I might invite other friends who are in a better position to host, and when it comes time for your turn, make yours a picnic. We had a picnic gathering this summer that was perhaps our most fun meeting yet. Depending on your climate, you might have to wait until next summer for picnic weather (we’re at the end of our sunny days here in Seattle), but that would be one approach.

      I’m in a similar situation with a bookclub I want to start, so I asked a friend who lives in a highrise downtown that has a lounge that can be reserved if we could have our first meeting there. It’s just a matter of getting creative I think. Best of luck!

  3. This is an awesome idea! My group of girlfriends get together once a week for a “cook night,” but doing these recipes from a cookbook would make it so much more interesting…going to try this! Thanks OBH!

  4. Oh how I would love to do this! I would just have to find the right people. Sadly that isn’t necessarily my group of friends. Sometimes we do potlucks but our once-monthly get togethers more often involve delivery food since not everyone wants to cook. But now I want to arrange one of these. In my very limited spare time, of course.

  5. I really love this idea! I love to eat and cook and it would be an awesome way to try new recipes. I have two cookbooks that I would love to do that with. I might have to look and see if there are any in my area.

  6. Bonus: You get to try out a cookbook before you buy it! If you have this as a recurring event, have everyone bring a cookbook, then while everyone is munching on food, have people go through cookbooks and vote on which they want to cook from next. Once chosen, have them pick their recipe (or a couple recipes) and make copies before they go home. You get to try out new cookbooks before you buy them, and in groups of different-walk-of-life people there is a built-in conversational topic for meeting new people!


  7. I just want to report myself and a group of friends have had two cookbook club meetings since I came across this, and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done. The first time we all cooked out of Julia Child’s “Way to Cook” then we decided to go with chefs instead of individual cookbooks from there forward. Tonight’s meeting was Jamie Oliver themed, and everything was amazing.

    It’s actually just really nice to have an excuse to see your friends, eat good food, and booze it up a little bit once every month or so, though.

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