We already have a sister and two friends we regularly give castoff food books to, and we're pretty attached to the ones that remain. So we scrounged around and came up with a couple of paperbacks: Havana Salsa and The Bad for You Cookbook, plus a hardcover copy of Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood. Celia Sack, owner of Omnivore Books -- who co-presented last night's event -- greeted us at the door and placed our books on the proper tables, without scoffing. Rachel Cole of 18 Reasons served up wine and told us about two book clubs starting in January, one devoted to food writing and another to cookbooks.There were several hundred books to choose from, food-themed games, even a couple of recipe boxes. We ended up with a beautiful copy of L'Atelier of Joël Robuchon; Mark Kurlansky's brand-new The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food -- Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation's Food Was Seasonal (whew!); Eat My Words: Reading Women's Lives through the Cookbooks They Wrote; and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements. Thanks to a surfeit of books, we were all allowed to take one more than we brought, a haul considerably better (and cheaper) than the one we got at the massive Friends of the Library sale last month at Fort Mason.
The memorial to Gourmet magazine turned out to be a small notebook in which you could inscribe a few thoughts, to be sent on to ex-editor Ruth Reichl. Lots of anecdotes of the "I grew up on Gourmet" kind were shared, the plastic cups of wine we were all clutching unnecessary, apparently, to make many attendees maudlin.
We were happy to see that the books we brought walked out the door, and also that tomes by Katie Lee Joel and Guy Fieri did not. There was a Gourmet cookbook left behind, too -- possibly the wounds are too fresh.