Two new cookbooks of distinction

Consider the cook on your shopping list. Maybe it’s time for a new — or an old — cookbook.

Americans have been hungry for nostalgia, and publishers are happy to feed them.

“101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes” ($50) boils down the classic, most iconic cookbooks to 501 recipes, drawing from books that span Fannie Farmer’s 1896 “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book” to Thomas Keller’s 1999 “The French Laundry Cookbook.”

Sneaking in between are recipes such as sole meuniere from Jacques Pepin’s “La Technique,” Bengal red lentils from Julie Sahni’s “Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking,” and banana bread from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.”

Essays about each book and its importance make this an excellent gift for the person who loves cookbooks even more than cooking.

There also is the incredibly charming “Handwritten Recipes” ($20), a collection of found recipes by bookseller Michael Popek.

Tucked between the pages of books brought into his store, Popek found the jots and scribbles of recipes from unknown cooks.

In “Handwritten Recipes,” he collects those notes and recipes, assembling a book that is as much lovely artifact as cookbook.

Michele Kayal, Associated Press

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