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Greatest cookbooks ever: What would you choose?

March 8, 2011 |  1:22 pm

What are the greatest cookbooks ever written? The International Assn. of Culinary Professionals is trying to determine that, with a new Culinary Classics award. Ten finalists were selected from a long list of nominees and five of those will be chosen. As a member of the IACP committee doing the selecting, I can report that the conversations were long and thoughtful. But I’m wondering what you would have chosen.

The main guideline was that the book had to have been published after 1940 and in English. New editions of previously published books could be honored, if they were significantly revised from the original.

The 10 we came up reflected the varied background of the judges: “The American Heritage Cookbook,” “A Book of Mediterranean Food” by Elizabeth David, “The Classic Italian Cook Book” by Marcella Hazan, “Delights and Prejudices” by James Beard, “The Gastronomical Me” by M.F.K Fisher, the 1975 edition of “Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, “On Food and Cooking” by Harold McGee, “Oxford Companion to Food” by Alan Davidson, and “Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen.” The winners will be announced at the IACP convention June 2.

What would your five choices be? And which great books did we miss?

-- Russ Parsons

Photo: Julia Child. Credit: Paul Child