The cookbook canon is a list of books that have significantly impacted the world of cooking and food. The canon should include books that are the “best of the best” on the subject of cookery cookbooks. The cookbooks that are accepted into the canon are the most significant and the most worthy of study.
Canons are helpful to guide our selection process as we develop our personal cookbook libraries. The best way to build your collection is to acquire a broad base of core books. My cookbook library is in a constant state of disarray. This occurred because I should have started with a list of essential books to build my collection around.
The cookbook canon is controversial for several reasons. First, we do not have an “official” panel of experts creating such a list. Second, it would take a lot of work to obtain a consensus on the items accepted or rejected items in the canon. There have been many attempts to create a cookbook canon. However, many have fallen flat. Most efforts have been dicey at best due to the wide variety of cuisines, cultures, and motivations.
Where does this leave us? My advice is to create your own cookbook canon. Your canon can serve as your “ultimate wish list” from which you can build your cookbook library over time. The titles you include in your cookbook canon are essential, influential, or fundamental to you. This way, your cookbook library will grow and mature along with you as a cook. The cookbook canon is whatever you want it to be.
My cookbook collection reflects my upbringing. It is mainly American Regional. The following are lists of cookbooks that have become essential parts of my cookbook library: