Much as we keep hearing how the publishing industry is struggling, cookbooks keep showing up on our desk by the dozens. Yes, we're delighted when those books involve Odd Bits, but not so much when they are yet another perky self-help book (Your going to feel great after cooking hundreds of pink cupcakes!) masquerading as a cookbook.
Without further cupcake delay, we offer our Top 5 Cookbook Trends We Wish Would End. Yeah, we're not holding our breath.
5. The Food Trend of the Moment Cookbook: In the 1980s, it seemed that anything fat-free became the next cookbook darling, in the 1990s we had one too many of those “everything has to be a variation on the molten chocolate cake theme” baking book moments. The current cookbook trends we hope will end very soon? For starters, the idea that desserts with alcohol in them suddenly get a separate “boozy” baking category (sorry, but we still consider a rum cake simply a cake), and the astounding number of cupcakes books that still keep appearing at our office.
4. The Reality Food Television Show Cookbook: Although we may like to watch the occasional episode of Iron Chef, the last thing we want to do is read about last year's Top Chef series via a really bad cookbook based on a television series (living in the past when it comes to live reality TV shows is never a wise idea). There is a reason that plenty of books are made into television miniseries or films, but rarely do you hear of the movie that later becomes a novel. Cookbook publishers, we can only hope, will soon abide by the same logic.
3. Diet Cookbooks: OK, we know this is never going to happen, as there is too much money in diet cookbooks — be they blatant Zone and Atkins type books, celebrity penned “lifestyle” books, or perky Skinny Bitch-type affairs. Call us crazy, but we buy a cookbook because we want to make something that tastes fantastic. Might that heirloom tomato salad with olive oil, fresh basil and a little burrata cheese qualify as healthy in the Mediterranean diet sense? Sure. But scream from the cookbook pages that it's healthy, and we're going to start out with a bad taste in our mouth.
2. Food Memoirs (With Recipes, Of Course) By People No One Has Heard Of: We are sure this will irritate all the food bloggers out there who, at age 32, are currently or have just penned their memoirs (with recipes at the end of each chapter, of course). But unless you are Julia Child or Calvin Trillin or someone with a really, really great Blood, Bones & Butter story like Gabrielle Hamilton, we beg you to keep your “life changing moments” like losing a job (welcome to the real world) and rediscovering your grandmother's cooking (we're very happy for you) on your own blog, not on our cookbook shelves.
1. Celebrity Chef Cookbooks That Are Blatant Public Relations Tools: Is every cookbook dependent on marketing? Absolutely. But when a food celebrity is pushing out two+ cookbooks, DVDs, and an endless supply of cookware named after themselves every single year, we consider these no longer a cookbooks, but unusually dense press releases with recipes. Baking queen Maida Heatter, well in her 90s, has published fewer than 10 books by our count (and several of these are re-issues of earlier books). Rachel Ray, in contrast, already has more than 20 cookbooks to her name (all of which are available at her online shop, with hundreds of other Rachel Ray items for purchase, of course). If you've ever written a cookbook, you fully understand the amount of time it takes to write just one quality cookbook — Maida Heatter-style. Quality, of course, being the key word here.