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What are the best cookbooks of all time? [Updated]

August 18, 2010 | 12:14 pm

Cover Delia Smith is better than Julia Child. No, really. At least, that’s according to the food staff at Britain’s Observer newspaper. They came up with a list of the 50 best cookbooks of all time and “Delia’s Complete How to Cook” ranked No. 12 while Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” merited no better than No. 21. Here's the list of the Observer's Top 10.

Lists like this are specious, of course, but they do provide a good opportunity for argument, which, really, is their whole purpose in the first place. For example, might it not be a little early to include last year’s David Chang’s “Momofuku” on an all-time list? On the other hand, it seems to me that including Scappi’s “Opera dell’Arte della Cucina” (published in 1570) seems little more than blatant intellectual chest-pounding. Has anyone actually cooked from it since, say, 1575?

 There were points on which I agreed. I was pleased by the inclusion of Colman Andrews’ “Catalan Cuisine,” which is too often overlooked these days, as well as books by other L.A. Times contributors Deborah Madison and Janet Mendel. And I was glad to see some of my other personal favorites included: “French Cooking in 10 Minutes” by Edouard de Pomiane and “Plats du Jour” by Patience Gray and Primrose Boyd).

And there are authors  I’m going to have to look into: Margaret Costa, Florence White, Yan-Kit So and Jeremy Round are writers whose reputations haven’t quite crossed the Atlantic yet.

What would your choices be?

[Updated at 12:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the Top 10 list would be released Sunday. It has already been released.]

-- Russ Parsons