I have been passed the baton by Pim to respond the Five Favorite Books meme which is currently traveling the food blog circuit. While the questions are open-ended, I've kept my answers food and cookbook focused (this is, after all, a food blog).
1. Total number of books I've owned
I have no idea as to the overall number, but when restricted to food and cooking, I counted 71. There are more in storage, so I would put the total somewhere over 100.
2. Last book I bought
A Meal Observed, by Andrew Todhunter, takes place during one evening at the renowned Paris restaurant Taillevant. Course by course, the book's 240 pages chronicle the author's five-hour dinner, weaving in personal history, the meal, and what goes on behind the scenes in the restaurant's kitchen. I haven't read a single page, but I'm curious to see how the writer will pull this off.
3. Last book I read
Toast by Nigel Slater, which I highly recommend. The author describes his childhood in the suburbs of England in the 1960s through food memories. Each of the vignettes, which span just one or two pages in most cases, is triggered by a remembrance of a particular food -- from the most mundane to the delicious to the grotesque. Where some food memoirs can be syrupy, Slater's writing is completely honest and unpretentious.
4. Five books that mean a lot to me
I'm not so sure if these books hold a lot of meaning for me, but they stand out in my collection.
Jacques Pépin's Table by Jacques Pépin. For those influenced by television cookery, Julia Child is probably the biggest star of all time. However, for me, Jacques Pepin was the main TV event when I got interested in cooking. The book is a collection of his recipes for his program Today's Gourmet, which I watched devotedly growing up. His basic technique for roasting chicken (browning the whole bird on two sides on top of the stove before transporting it into the oven) is ingrained in me.
Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson. Like a television cooking show, only in book form, this book is a comprehensive guide to all of the major cooking techniques with step by step photos that leave nothing to the imagination (but in a good way).
Every Night Italian by Giuliano Hazan, son of Marcella Hazan. Every recipe I have made from this book has been a success . . . and they're easy. See my post for his Fusilli with Sausage and Leeks for an example.
A Tuscan in the Kitchen by Pino Luongo. There are no measurements given in any of the recipes in this unusual book. While the method might seem a hinderance, the book places its focus is on the ingredients and techniques in making traditional Italian dishes which are open to individual variation and adaptation.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. This was such a fun read, particularly since it rang true to my limited experience in the restaurant world (a summer as a dishwasher; a year as a busboy).
5. Which 5 people would you most like to see fill this out in their blog?