Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Literary Side Of Eating

On the Upper East Side exists the most amazing kind of haven.  This haven retains a cult following by foodies and chefs.  Magazines have given it its due, as have the David Changs of the world.  

This place is called Kitchen Arts and Letters.  They sell only cookbooks and books about food. 

I guarantee that you have never seen anything like this store.  Every regional cuisine you've ever wanted to explore has its own book--nay, shelf!--at Kitchen Arts and Letters.  Looking for the collected works of M.F.K. Fisher?  Check.  Searching for that Martha Stewart Entertaining cookbook from 1986?  Double check.  The collected recipes of Ferran Adrian from El Bulli, 1980s through today?  That's a special order, but you get the picture. 

Any food book you can possibly imagine this store can provide.  Their out of print section ranges from the tacky (The Pasta Diet: How to Lose 10 lbs. In 14 Days and Keep It Off Forever) to the esoteric (Fine Sauces From the 1800s).  Books range from inexpensive to just plain ridiculous.  I found older informational books, missing their sleeves, that cost upward of $100.

The greats are all here.  Some books are considered requisite tomes for aspiring chefs (See: The Fat Duck Cookbook, which was probably more popular before the Michelin 3-star closed down last week due to a staggering 40 reported cases of food poisoning), others merely pretty to look at.  If you've had enough of Johnny Iuzzini's smiling visage, don't go here to escape: his book, Dessert 4-Play, is proudly on display.  

As for me, I lost myself in memoir, among the ranks of Reichl, Trillin, Damrosch, Buford, Child, David, and Hazan.  I could have spent the entire afternoon.  Instead, my boss and I dropped $400 for our restaurant's permanent collection and dragged our loot downtown.  

If you like cookbooks, or any kind of book focused on the history or anthropology of food, visit this establishment.  You will not be disappointed. 

Kitchen Arts and Letters
1435 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10128

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