Kitchen Arts and Letters
Neighborhood: East 90s & Up
Type of Place: Books
I am not a huge cook. I'm somewhat cooking-phobic, truth be told. But I aim to change that...and I always admire those who are already in touch with their inner chef. And so I was fascinated to find the Upper East Side's Kitchen Arts and Letters, a bookstore that features only texts related to food and wine.
It's a cozy place with a friendly and helpful staff—and it has, as well as books about basics, just about every specialty text you can imagine. I was surprised to find a book about spoons ("Spoons 1650-2000," by Simon Moore, $12.95) until I also found a book about forks ("Consider the Fork," by Bee Wilson, $26.99). And who knew there was a book dedicated to recipes popular during World War 2? Yes: "Wartime Recipes: A Collection of Recipes from the War Years," Edited by David Notley—I was so busy looking at what was popular then that I forgot to record the price.
A sign suggests that the shop's out-of-print books will make great gifts, and I agree—though so many things here would make the right recipient very happy. One great-looking title is "The Joy of Chocolate" (by Judith Olney, $10)—though how a book on this topic could be out of print is a mystery to me. One of my favorite finds of the day was the also-out-of-print "The Eccentric Cookbook," by Richard, Earl of Bradford ($20). The cover photograph shows the good Earl in a full-length apron imprinted with a bra and garters. I have a feeling he could easily diminish my fear of cooking.
Another title of the "You can do it!" type: Melissa Clark's "Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can't Wait to Make" ($29.99). If you're an expert already, chances are good that you can find something here on the exact thing you want to learn more about preparing.
There are also interesting, lesser-known food magazines, such as "Lucky Peach" ($12 per issue) and "The Art of Eating" ($11.95).
I heard another customer discussing which cities in the U.S. have food-related bookstores. They're around, but like all independent book stores, they need support. And supporting these folks is a pleasure; you'll surely find something that will suit your tastes just right.