A 21 Year Old Walks Into A Bookstore…

And buys a cookbook. A pastry cookbook. A cookbook with big, bold words on the front cover that are paired with only promising reviews on the back. I never fancied I’d buy a cookbook. For a long time I debated buying cookbooks and thought of them as weird kitchen relics owned only by middle-aged housewives of caucasian decent and as a Mexican, single female, I didn’t fit the category. Cookbooks to me were in the same realm as pastel aprons with ruffled edges and polos with cardigans (I write in my own black and white striped cardigan, sans polo though). They were a symbol of ultimate domesticity, a final grasp for liveliness in an ocean of pale and boring. Obviously my assumptions were wrought with misconceptions but I held onto them, also because I believed that me, master gastronome at the age of 19-21, would never need a cookbook, you see I had the internet at my fingertips. 

I live a few blocks away from a local bookstore that I always admired from a distance as I rode my bike to and from work or school and today I took a step in the right direction and walked in. I don’t know what had taken me so long; I would say that I’ve been passing this place for about a year now. I suppose today I was feeling righteous. I don’t want to say that I walked into this place with the hopes of finding a cookbook that had marvelous recipes for traditional, or contemporary pastries and desserts…but I absolutely did. I’ve been baking a lot. No, I’ve been baking as much as my schedule will allow. As a person of many passions and little time, I don’t have the opportunity to delve into something in the same way another person (with more time, and maybe less passions) would be able to but my new years resolution was to bake once a week. Nothing specific, no rules, no  guidelines, just to bake. So i’ve been baking and I’ve made a few new things and I’ve also been trying to conquer a vanilla cake (yellow, and white). There are only so many tabs one can bookmark, or pages one can save, before the list becomes overwhelming and almost bland. My collection ranged from baklava to tiramisu to an Earl Grey and Vanilla Bean layer cake that still epitomizes what I deem to be a perfect combination of flavors. Then the task was to pick one, usually there are time constraints and on a rare occasion there are financial constraints as well because, hello! Bachelor of Fine Arts degree I’ll see you soon! Regardless, I’d usually lose enthusiasm very quickly and end up making banana bread or my go to - muffins. It’s felt completely directionless. I have a set plan of what I want to do that involves baking or concocting weird, new pastries but what I was doing didn’t really follow that plan. Last year, I went on a short trip to Madison, WI and one of the people I met there was an ex-pastry chef, current chocolatier who had books and tricks and tools and helpful advice to give to me and it made me so excited because it was exactly what I wanted and then I got back to Chicago and slept for a couple hours and then went to work. It’s not that the excitement wore off, it’s just that other things took over.

So I buy this cookbook, not before deliberating over it for a good twenty minutes. Well, what if it ends up being a waste of money (again, BFA), what if it doesn’t have any recipes I like, what if I don’t learn anything from it? The list goes on. And then I bit the bullet and said whatever, it’s a fucking cookbook, I’ve spent more money on more pointless things and this purchase may just benefit what I’m trying to do. I’ve been sitting in my apartment for about 45 minutes now, writing this, and snacking on pistachios, while the book sits on my bed - still wrapped in its sterile plastic with its big bold title. 

I am not skeptical about this purchase. I am not extraordinarily excited about it, either. I have an open mind and depending on how my relationship with this book is, I will either place it on its own shelf in my apartment with a little title card that reads ‘My First Cookbook’, or I will burn it (that’s a little drastic, theres a tiny chance I’ll burn it, probably just donate it). In any case, this is the start of something - something hopefully bigger than what I can currently imagine.

Cheers.

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Breakfast at Elly’s Pancake House

Breakfast at Elly’s Pancake House

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Cheddar Chicken Omelette | Elly’s Pancake House 

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Omelettes from Elly’s Pancake House 

Omelettes from Elly’s Pancake House 

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Pumpkin snickerdoodle cheesecake cookies with the Modern Wing in the background. Tis the season!!

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Birthday Cake | Fritz Pastry | Lakeview, Chicago

Birthday Cake | Fritz Pastry | Lakeview, Chicago

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Super Duper Burger | San Francisco, CA

I’ve eaten a lot of burgers since the last time I had a Super Duper burger and I will admit that they aren’t absolutely stellar, but for $6, I will continue to love these mighty, little burgers. 

Super Duper Burger | San Francisco, CA

I’ve eaten a lot of burgers since the last time I had a Super Duper burger and I will admit that they aren’t absolutely stellar, but for $6, I will continue to love these mighty, little burgers. 

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Ricanelas and vanilla | Bi Rite Creamery | SoMA, SF

Ricanelas and vanilla | Bi Rite Creamery | SoMA, SF

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Award winning pizza napoletana Margherita Pizza | Tony’s Pizza Napoletana | North Beach, SF

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The Americano, classic American style pizza | Tony’s Pizza Napoletana | North Beach, SF

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