Why are there so many technique-driven cookbooks today?

 cookbook collage

While gorgeously-illustrated, recipe-based cookbooks still dominate the market, another category of books has been quietly experiencing a rennaissance. As Sarah Whitman-Salkin of Food52 explains, technique-driven, back-to-basics cookbooks have been on the rise in the last few years

There have always been general cookbooks, but the new crop sets themselves apart from older works that were straightforward in their descriptions of techniques like how to dice onions, make mayonnaise, or roast a chicken. The difference in today’s books, says Whitman-Salkin, “is the variance in approach to these basics. Individually, each of these authors can teach a person how to boil an egg or braise vegetables; together, their combined voices offer a holistic portrait in what, how, and why to cook.”

Several reasons are given for why technique-driven books are popular again. Some people view it as part of the natural “pendulum” of cooking trends – one year it’s all about glossy photos and over-the-top presentations; the next brings us back to basics. Others think the exposure to new and exciting foods via social media feeds has encouraged a new generation – who did not, as a rule, learn to cook from their parents – to take up cooking for themselves. 

Even though these books aim at the a novice cook, everyone can learn something new from these modern how-to tomes, says Whitman-Salkin. Her relatives may have guided her in the kitchen, but she notes that while there is “great knowledge in generational cooking… sometimes there are better ways to do things than your great-grandmother did them.” 

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