- The 1928 leather-bound edition of Ali-Bab’s Gastronomie Pratique. I learned most of my very limited French whilst decoding recipes from that encyclopaediac volume at my sainted mother's kitchen table, and I miss it like an old friend. Anything else that appears on this list is a distant relation to this work of art.
- Samuel Chamberlain’s British Bouquet, An Epicurean Tour of Britain, or, for that matter, any of Samuel Chamberlain’s books. Though not a cookbook, per se, I highly recommend the recently reprinted Clementine in the Kitchen, a narrative with a number of recipes included. The great thing about Chamberlain’s cookbooks was not so much the recipes and more the wonderful travelogues that he included. They were cookbooks for the foodie. In addition, the 50s Gourmet Publishing editions were these big beautiful white leather volumes that made you want to read them all the more. Everything of Chamberlain's should be in reprint.
- “Trader” Vic Bergeron’s Trader Vic’s Kitchen Kibitzer from 1952. It was a fantastic reference for things like “How to cook a steak” or “How to make a moderately interesting tossed salad with iceberg lettuce” and the like. More than a reference book, though, it was just a great, fun read.
- The big, brown Gourmet cookbook, two volumes that were my mom’s general reference. A wonderful basic.
- An old edition of The Joy of Cooking. I had one that was published just after WW II, and it was great! I liked the quirkiness of the older recipes.
This is one of those lists that I am bound to add to as time passes, but these are the ones that come to mind immediately. Are there any great old cookbooks that you wish you still had?