Big City Cooking by Matthew Kenny and Joan Schwartz

Cover of Big City Cooking by Matthew Kenny and Joan Schwartz

New bookstores are fabulous. Used bookstores are fantastic. The places that combine both are amazing. The place that is an “entire city block”: is beyond words. At least, that’s how I felt being there. I think that while we were in Portland, OR we visited Powell’s City of Books and/or “Powell’s Technical Books”: at least twice. We were only in Portland for about three days, so that should give you an indication of how much we enjoyed the place.

In truth, I think I like used bookstores better than new bookstores. I truly love all bookstores, and new bookstores show me what’s just come out or what’s on the horizon. But used bookstores offer up old-time gems that you might never otherwise encounter at a library or in a friend’s home, which is just lovely. This is the magic of used book stores. And Powell’s City of Books is where we got this cookbook.

Bill and I are both originally from a state out west with almost no population density. None of those cities would qualify as “big cities” by any metric. And so when I, at least, moved to my first big city (D.C.), I was pretty nervous that I wouldn’t take to it well. I was quite wrong. There’s a lot going for a big city (especially CHICAGO!), not the least of which is one major premise of this cookbook: you have access to an astonishing number of ingredients, between greater demand and density of differing food styles from a variety of places. Furthermore, you’re not limited by a small number of food markets (two in our college town), but can shop at a boggling array of big supermarkets and small specialty shops. However, you ARE often limited by the size of your kitchen (the other major premise of this book).

Hence, I love the idea of this book, and I am thrilled to own it now. As it seems to be currently out of print, it’s one of those (potential) little gems I might never have found outside of the magic that is the used bookstore (or in this case, book city). Maybe it will end up being a dud, but I’m excited to find out.

Number of recipes in this book: 99 (estimated)
Number we’ve cooked: 1

You can click the “big city cooking” tag below to see all the recipes we’ve made from this book.