Bert Greene’s Bloglike Cookbook from 1979

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Talking about spice drawers and spice stores yesterday sent me to my cookbook pile for Bert Greene’s Kitchen Boquets (available in both hard and soft cover from for under $5).

Written as a “cookbook of favored aromas and flavors,” the 1979 cookbook is organized alphabetically by spice and flavor, rather than by meal or region. For example, in the Nutmeg chapter Greene suggests recipes for Fried Chicken and Turkey Tetrazzini, while Pepper triggers Peanut and Pepper Pie and Pepper Chicken with Dumplings.

The out-of-print book moves through flavors and provides some science, personal memories and recipes for each: almond, anise, basil . . . maderia, mint, mustard . . . rum, saffron, tomato.

If I was unable to cook or blog (gasp!) for a while, this book would be a helpful companion. As NYC-based cooking blog A Chicken in Every Granny Cart says, Greene’s cookbook is “almost bloglike in its tone and rhythm.”

Iron Chefs could also find this cookbook to be helpful. If forced to cook with poppy seeds and fish, Bert Greene has a few suggestions.

Greene shares his personality, family relationships, and great curiosity for cooking in the book, but the book still feels taut and somewhat sad to me. “Yet there was no savor to our kitchen. My mother was a perfunctory cook whos pride kept a taut galley,” he explains in the introduction. Greene writes in an elongated prose in this book decorated with orange calligraphy, both signs of the late 70s.

Greene lived in New York City and Long Island, where he owned a gourmet take-out shop called The Store. With his partner as editor and advisor, he wrote a food column from The New York Daily News in the 1980s. He’s also known for his cookbooks on greens and grains, now edited into one book. He died in 1988.

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