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Jeremiah Tower's cookbook collection, and something else

February 8, 2012 | 11:48 am

Labonne_cuisineThis is how you can get lost in the great wide Web: I was checking in on the San Francisco Chronicle’s restaurant news site Inside Scoop SF and I read a beautiful post from Michael Bauer in tribute to cookbook author and cooking teacher Marion Cunningham on her 90th birthday. Writes Bauer, "She did more for American cooking than just about anyone. Her 'Fannie Farmer Cookbook,'  'Fannie Farmer Baking Book,' 'The Breakfast Book' and her other works live on.  Happy birthday, Marion.”

When I checked back in the afternoon to look at the photo of Marion in her prime again, I found a new item by Celia Sack, owner of Omnivore Books on Food in San Francisco, revealing that Jeremiah Tower had contacted her about selling his collection of cookbooks, most of them signed. And she bought all of them. For those who don’t know the name, Tower was chef at Chez Panisse in the early days and later opened Stars in San Francisco, a glittering restaurant where all of the city's society wined and dined.

Curious, like Sack, to see what Tower's influences had been, I hopped onto Sierra_madre Omnivore’s site to see whether any of Towers’ books were left.  She still has his copy of the French classic “La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange" as well as “100 Recettes de Cuisine Russe,” a 1927 French cocktail book, and a few other regional French cookbooks from his library. 

I ended up rummaging around in the vintage category and found a 1929 cookbook from the Sierra Madre Woman’s Club for sale. “Great local ads and descriptions of subtropical fruits and their uses make this a gem. Light staining inside & out, else good. $30."

Somebody who has a sentimental attachment to Sierra Madre should pick it up for his or her collection. 


Valentine's Day dining guide

Test Kitchen tips: Stove-top smoking

Test Kitchen video tip: How to truss a chicken

 -- S. Irene Virbila

Photos: Courtesy of Omnivore Books on Food, San Francisco.