Half the fun of bookstore browsing is picking up a well-fed cookbook, letting it slump over your knee, and flipping through those hundreds upon hundreds of pages. These days, it's all about knowing a book's shipping weight, the modern kill-joy of cookbook shopping. Unless you're in that free shipping price realm, which with hefty books is fortunately often the case.
Still, oversized books take up prime cookbook shelf and kitchen counter space, not to mention they tend to be pricey. We recommend shopping for them cautiously. And methodically. The same way you might choose a stand mixer. Or chocolate-appropriate hair dryer, should that be more your style. Turn the page for our Top 10 Supersized Cookbooks.
10. The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, 11.6 pounds, 532 pages
Heston Blumenthal in a more serious mode here than in those Fantastical Feasts leach moments. But actually, we sort of like the idea of deep fried leeches. With plenty of garlic, of course.
9. Vefa's Kitchen, 6 pounds, 704 pages
The Old Testament of Greek cooking, particularly recommended for olive branch devotees. Warning: Be prepared to hit Costco regularly for that really good, and affordable, olive oil.
8. The Essential New York Times Cookbook, 4.6 pounds, 932 pages
Yes, this book looks light in comparison. But considering how compact it is (no coffee table-size cover), it's plenty big. Trust us. And it deserves a few complimentary pounds for the quality.
7. The Silver Spoon Cookbook, 6 pounds, 1,264 pages
Ditto the complimentary pounds, even more so as The Silver Spoon is from an era — the 1950s — before cookbook girth was a status symbol. And we think this Italian home cooking classic should be in every library. Its American counterpart, The Joy of Cooking, is surprisingly only 3.7 pounds, even at 1,152 pages.
6. The Professional Chef, 7.6 pounds, 1,232 pages
The Culinary Institute of America has been pumping out some more home cook-friendly professional guidebooks lately, but this textbook is definitely for professionally inclined. Or those who really do have the patience to flute three dozen mushrooms on a Tuesday night.
5. The Professional Pastry Chef, 6.1 pounds, 1,040 pages
The Pastry 101 version of The Professional Chef by Bo Friberg is slightly thinner but filled with just as many time-consuming recipes to keep you busy piping out ganache for years. Trust us.
4. Modernist Cuisine, 2,438 pages
Although Amazon doesn't list a shipping weight yet on Nathan Myhrvold's 6-volume Modernist Cuisine, something tells us it's going to be heavy. Very heavy.
3. El Bulli: 1998-2002, 10.2 pounds, 426 pages
A keepsake if you're one of the lucky ones to have dined at the restaurant. If not, save yourself the $200+ out-of-print price and go with that 528 page A Day At El Bulli. You get 100 pages more for you money, and only have to shell out a fraction of the price. The power of paperback.
2. The Essential Thomas Keller, 11.7 pounds, 704 pages
Fine, perhaps a box set is cheating, but this is one of the best double-wides out there. If not for weeknight recipe value (this is Thomas Keller) than for sheer flip-through fun.
1. Larousse Gastronomique, 6.8 pounds, 1,360 pages
Sure, this 1938 manual would never win on heft alone. But perhaps our super-sized cookbook era wasn't a good idea to begin with. And it turns out this encyclopedia with basic (and brief) recipes tossed into the mix actually falls within our Tweet-able cookbook attention span today. Wonder what Prosper Montagné, the book's editor, would have to say about that — and his Facebook page.