Weighty Issues: The Heaviest Cookbooks Out There
We have been known, on occasion, to make fun of (and also defend) the thick, cloth bound, coffee table versions of cookbooks. Recently we've noticed that this trend has gotten a bit out of control and want to call out those which simultaneously break your back and your pocketbook. Whether their heft is due to a celebrity chef's massive ego, an institution's thoroughness, or a detailed exploration of a nation's cuisine, heavy cookbooks represent a massive (and pricey) portion of the market.
Chief amongst them, to the surprise of absolutely no one, is The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, by Heston Blumenthal. Weighing in at a grand total of 11.6 pounds, Blumenthal's opus also took top honors in our price per pound category: $13.58 per pound. Other heavy hitters include the CIA's The Professional Chef (pick an edition, any edition, but ours is #8), Ferran Adria's A Day at El Bulli, and every book ever written by Thomas Keller, save for Ad Hoc at Home, which only weighs in at a puny 3.3 pounds.
So, is a heavier book reflective of the amount of information contained within it? Or is it merely showing off? Contenders for both arguments, below.
Table: The Heaviest Cookbooks Out There
|Rank||Pounds||Title||Price||Price / LB|
|#1||11.6||The Big Fat Duck Cookbook (Amazon)
|#2||7.8||The Professional Chef, 8th Edition (Amazon)
The Culinary Institute of America
|#3||7.4||Larousse Gastronomique (Amazon)
|#4||6.9||A Day at El Bulli (Amazon)
|#6||6||The Silver Spoon (Amazon)
|#7||5.8||Chez Jacques Deluxe Edition: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook (Amazon)
|#8||5.6||Vefa's Kitchen (Amazon)
|#10||5.4||1080 Recipes (Amazon)
Inas Ortega and Simone Ortega
|#11||5.3||My New Orleans: The Cookbook (Amazon)
|#12||5.2||The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Heavy-Duty Revised Edition (Amazon)
America's Test Kitchen
|#13||5.2||Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent (Amazon)
Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid
|#14||5.2||The French Laundry Cookbook (Amazon)
|#15||5.1||Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia (Amazon)
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Daguid
|#16||5||Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating (Amazon)
|#17||4.9||Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide (Amazon)
|#18||4.8||Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen (Amazon)
The table doesn't seem follow a specific pattern; while Blumenthal's behemoth is predictably on top both in terms of weight and price per pound, the rest of the table is all over the map. Some included are definitely vanity pieces, while some are just mammoth workhorses. Either way, heavy cookbooks seem to be here to stay, and at least they earn their keep: the stack pictured above has been known to press quite a few eggplant slices and store several chef's knives in addition to being the inspiration for some mighty fine meals.