Photo: greg.turner, Flickr
With more than 3,500 cookbooks from the late Gourmet Magazine library just added to its collection, New York University's Fales Library Food Studies Collection has something major to cheer about. Slashfood attended the a recent celebration honoring award-winning cookbook author Rozanne Gold for her generous donation that made the acquisition possible. We caught up with Marvin J. Taylor, Director, The Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University to get the scoop on what's really on the shelves.
Slashfood: What makes The Fales Library Food Studies Collection the largest and most important in the country?
Marvin J. Taylor: First, sheer size. We hold more volumes than any of the other collections. It's most important because our collection looks at food from a cultural standpoint, not just from nutrition, science, women's studies, etcetera, but from all these viewpoints at once.
How many cookbooks are in the collection?
MJT: I'm not sure, but we estimate that there are 55,000 volumes and counting.
Tell us a bit about what you guys have in there.
MJT: There are 20,000 printed books and cookbooks from Cecily Brownstone, Dalia Carmel, Ladies Home Journal, The James Beard Foundation, and now The Gourmet Magazine Library. We have 5,000 pamphlets; restaurant menus, matchbooks, announcements, and other ephemera; and influential figures in American food culture donated their personal papers -- letters, manuscripts, recipes, photos, video, audio and other media which show history and culture, immigration, agriculture, economics, food fads and trends including: The James Beard Papers, The Ruth Reichl Papers, The Cecily Brownstone Papers, The Betty Fussell Papers,The Marion Nestle Papers, The Les Dames d'Escoffier of New York Archives, The James Beard Foundation Chefs Files, and The Café Nicholson Archives.
Also, Dalia Carmel has given more than 11,000 titles and counting. [Carmel is a renowned cookbook collector who helped publish In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy From the Women of Terezin, based on a notebook of recipes compiled by a group of women in the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust.]
Dish some dirt: What's your most unusual cookbook?
MJT: That's tough. There are so many really disgusting cookbooks out there. How about the most amusing? Cooking for Orgies and Other Large Parties.