Over to You…

2009.Oct.30 Friday · 11 comments

in Books & Other Media, Casa SaltShaker, Life

A question for regular, and irregular, readers of the blog. As many of you know, I’ve been hard at work on a Casa SaltShaker cookbook. Part of me wants to have it simply be a recipe book, with a touch of the background and the story behind some of the dishes, and part wants to have it be more of a story/history of Casa SaltShaker. The biggest difference is likely to be in the organization (not to mention my tendency at times to drone on a touch, like here) – the former would be setup in a fairly straightforward cookbook style, divided into sections like “cold starters”, “hot starters”, etc.; the latter would be almost more blog-like, with a tracing of the development of the dinners, one by one (perhaps not every single one), along with an edited version of whatever first appeared in the blog about the dinner, and choosing one recipe from each to feature. Obviously either would be indexed for looking up an individual recipe, but still, the history version would be a bit less, user friendly, for someone just looking for “what to cook” tonight. Then again, there are a whole lot o’ those out there.

What say you? And why?


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Goose October 30, 2009 at 15:01

History version is more interesting. You can build an index that *reads* like a cookbook, with the typical sections so someone that wants to look for what to cook can find it easily..

Marc October 30, 2009 at 16:00

Are you familiar with Sheila Lukins’ “Celebrate!”? Great book, designed for those who like to throw parties. The format is somewhat similar to one of your ideas. Instead of the typical format of listing recipes by course or category(vegs,beef, chicken, etc.) she offers party menus for holidays, seasons, themes, special occasions, etc. Each party menu is prefaced with a half-page or page of text describing the menu with tidbits of trivia related to the occasion. Check out the First Pages option on Amazon’s Look Inside.

I believe a Casa SaltShaker cookbook would work out quite well in a similar format. Your blog posts are already similar with, say, the brief historical notes before the course descriptions.

You could always toss in an extra index in the back listing recipes by course or category.

Dan October 30, 2009 at 16:34

Just have as many of your recipes as possible. You could do a cooking school cookbook, too.

(other)Dan Perlman

Martin Sanders October 30, 2009 at 16:38

I think a “history version” would be more interesting, especially for those of us who have had the pleasure of dining at Casa Saltshaker. On my times there, I like the way a “theme” carried through the entire menu. I can see an index that has entries for such “themes” along with some classifications such as “Dan’s favorites,” or “Henry’s favorites,” or “Most requested,” or “Highly-adaptable.” To my mind, that would convey an essence of what Casa Saltshaker means, at least to me. Regardless, I am looking forward to the publication in whatever form you choose for it.

Faith Kramer October 30, 2009 at 17:31

I vote for an easier to cook from format with ample amounts of side bars and “story inserts” kind of like Shelia Lukins USA or Around the World cookbooks.

Keep it easy to use and interesting — I assume your market is not only people who “get” Casa Saltshaker. If it’s seen as too much of an “in” book, that could affect sales.

Please throw in plenty of stuff on Buenos Aires and Argentinean cooking — we could use lots more of that!

What does your agent think?

dan October 30, 2009 at 18:03

I’ve talked to a couple of agents, and they had opposite points of view on it – and different target markets in mind – and I didn’t come away from either meeting feeling like they were people I wanted to work with, so still looking. I’m leaning towards the easier to cook format for some of the more basic stuff – a section, probably at the back, that is just recipes – basic doughs, sauces, condiments, etc. that we use in a variety of dishes, along with some techniques that may be different from the norm. And then the bulk of the book being presented more as Marc suggested, in the format of Lukins “Celebrate” book – set up by menus along with a bit of a story that, hopefully, keeps it interesting to read, not just use as a reference.

Ken Sternberg October 30, 2009 at 23:55

I would make it approximately 90 percent recipes and 10 percent history/development. Or maybe 80/20. Not everyone cruising a bookstore is going to be interested in how you came to develop your theme dinners, but I do think the idea for and development of Casa Salt Shaker would be a good read. Expat comes to BA, “secret” restaurant movement takes off, Casa Saltshaker is born, etc.

Also, as an avid cookbook reader but from a non-professional point of view, please adapt the recipes as much as possible to folks like us. Sauces, emulsions, etc. are fine, but please don’t inlcude a recipe step such as “2 cups of whatever [see p. 72] and on p. 72 is some 20-step recipe for making the whatever. This just stops me cold from attempting a recipe.

dan October 31, 2009 at 08:10

Actually, Ken hits on exactly what I’m concerned about – not the latter part, I hate that too, but, I’ve seen half a dozen books come out in the last couple of years from food blog writers that read as nothing more than an extension of their blog. I don’t want that – not one of those books has been worth the time it took to read their title, and all have come across as pretentious. It’s a different audience, a different intent, and requires a different style of writing. This is good feedback from all of you, it helps clarify some ideas bouncing around in my brain. Thanks!

Nancy Johns November 2, 2009 at 23:29

I think you need both. I like cookbooks that are more like reading a book with info and history. I think that in the beginning…it should be more straightforward cooking info and basics. Then you could move into some recipes and finally menus with background and more info. That way, I could choose any of three sections to use and spend more time reading or just cut to the chase.

Donald Zealand November 5, 2009 at 13:07

I agree with Nancy – lets have both.

But whatever form, I look forward to having a copy.

Almost as much as I look forward to the next dining experience with you.

See you in December.


Barbara Hansen November 8, 2009 at 02:32

I love the idea of a book that gives the feel of being at Casa Saltshaker for dinner. Your run-throughs of the thinking behind each dinner are so interesting and make one really want to try the recipes. From personal experience, I know how special the food is.

My one hope is that this book gets done quickly so that I can have it in my hands and use it.

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