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.