I am, like any other chef I know, mad about cookbooks. I could spend so much money on them it is actually frightful! And then there is such a huge choice of books, one has to be a bit careful not just to buy anything. Often cookbooks are similar to each other, so over the past couple of years I have reduced my buying drastically. Nowadays I only get a book if I feel that it is really special, like Harold McGee's McGee on Food and Cooking. I think this is a book every chef should not just have, but read from the first to the last page. It is not a recipe book as such, there are some guidelines in it, but it is an encyclopedia about what happens when food gets cooked. Why does meat get tender (or not) and why does scrambled egg turn green! Food is analyzed and broken down. After reading this book I understand a lot more of the actual happenings during the cooking process and I am able to cook food even gentler to have a better result. For me this book is a must.
But instead of just buying books, I subscribe as well to some magazines like the Australian Gourmet Traveler. A lovely monthly magazine with good food, a good variety of bistro food all the way to fine dining, special editions on Italy, France and Spain and of course there is always some Asian recipes in there. I enjoy reading about the latest trends (I feel the Aussies are way ahead there), the latest tools and about the travel. The travel section at the end of the magazine is lovely and gives plenty of good hints of what to do.
Then of course there are the "must have" books, but the only use for them, at least for most of us, is as a table top book. Foremost the books of El Bulli, without the proper ingredients and cooking material they are just a collection of fancy pictures of different hot and cold jellies, powders, spheres and so on. The same is with Hestom Blumentals latest book, "The Fat Duck".
One book I really enjoyed reading is "Made in Italy" by Giorgio Locatelli. Yes he is the madman on BBC Food Channel with the long hair, but his book is just beautiful. It is a mix of small stories, interesting facts about products and of course recipes. They are authentic and Italian, simple and deliciously tasty, just love them. It is a thick heavy book with more than 600 pages, worth buying the hard cover!
So yes, I guess it is a bit of an addiction, to buy cook books, but there are worse addictions