Friday, September 2, 2011

Pin It

Yeah, Like I Need Another Cookbook

Now that I've plundered the place and plucked what I've wanted for my own shelves, it's safe to tell you about a San Diego cookbook store that's going out of business.

I've been shopping at Barbara Gelink's secondhand cookbook store since moving to town. Tucked away in a little Kensington strip mall behind a liquor store, it's always been easy to overlook. There's no particular reason to peek down the narrow parking lot if you didn't have business there. Do so this week, however, and you'll notice a bright yellow banner announcing her going out of business sale. Her goal? Liquidate the stock and close shop by Christmas.

Grilled Fogas from József Venez's 1958 Hungarian Cuisine
As of September 1st, her entire inventory of secondhand cookbooks is half off. I understand there will be steeper discounts next month. For now, though, the shelves are still laden with culinary books from around the world. There's the 1948 Malay recipe book for $25 (er, rather, $12.50) I considered (twice) but left behind. Though her stock is mostly in English and heavily focused on the United States, there are cookery books in Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, and more. Some Charles H. Baker, some Trader Vic. I saw several copies of the Oxford Companion to Food, each marked at under $20. Less than $10 with the sale.

I didn't pay retail for my copy, but, damn; it wasn't that cheap.

The thing about secondhand American bookstores is that I've been prowling through them for years. Decades, actually, at this point. In casual hunting, many of the titles I find that grab my attention already sit on a shelf somewhere at home. Those secondhand books I do buy tend to be unusual, old, or esoteric. In the Kitchen with Rosie? Absolutely no interest; every thrift store from here to Rochester has copies to burn. At Gelink's, a fat overview of Austrian cookery, however, caught my eye. I picked up Das große Sacher-Kochbuch and four others for a total of $19.

For the next few days, I'll pick my way through a history of die österreichische Küche, some startling recipes from Hungary, a catalog of brumalian sweets, and, predictably, even more on German and Southern cookery.

What will you get?

The Cookbook Store
4108 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 284-8224

Goes well with:


Mage said...

Ooh, dear. Another brick and mortar store out of business. So many people keep laptops in their kitchen now to look up their recipes online. I'm so sorry.

Thanks for letting us know.

Matthew Rowley said...

Hi, Mage ~

As I spend more time with my iPad, I become more enamored of its possibilities. If every single bit of my library — every recipe and essay, archival materials, all the ephemera, all of it — was scanned and filed in a searchable, hyperlinked database, I would use that tool every day. And I would get rid of books bought when I was younger but which would not pass muster on my current collecting criteria. But to get rid of them all in favor of a laptop or an iPad? Not a chance. When the power goes off, when the laptop grows obsolete, when the iPad gets stolen or lost, and batteries die, I still have my books.

As long as there are people like me around, books won't disappear, nor will the stores that cater to us, though they may end up looking different. For what it's worth, Barbara said she plans to keep selling cookbooks on her eBay store...though I'll miss the smell of old paper.