Home to books and journals on biochemistry, paleontology, forestry, zoology, genetics, and other related fields, the Bioscience Library also – somewhat unexpectedly – collects cookbooks. Walk past the reference desk, turn right, and just beyond the medical core collection, you’ll find two rows of shelves filled with cookbooks. Briefly peruse the aisle and you’ll see cookbooks on cuisines from around the world, starting with The Art of Armenian Cooking, ending in Zanzibar, and covering much of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas in between. You’ll also find books on particular categories of food, such as snacks and sandwiches, pasta, desserts, baking (including the Rose Levy Beranbaum classics, The Cake Bible and The Bread Bible), and meats, which are particularly well covered with entire volumes devoted to venison and spam. Vegetarian cooking and American regional cuisines each have their own extensive section.
You can also find national standards, such as the Joy of Cooking and the Silver Palate, as well as the works of well-known American food writers (e.g., James Beard and Mark Bittman). In addition, the library stocks books by Bay Area authors, Alice Waters for example, and establishments, the Zuni Cafe or Niman Ranch to name just two. Finally, some books have a historical theme – the Roman table, Medieval foods, or Martha Washington – while others are simply of historical interest. Take for instance Mary Meade’s Magic Recipes for the Electric Blender from 1954 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Test Kitchen Series (last checked out in 1989). The Golden Gate Gourmet, published in 1962, which opens with “Favorite Selections of Bay Area Hostesses,” seems like perfect fodder for a Mad Men-themed party.
Any of these books can be checked out for a week. To get a sense for what the collection holds, do a subject search for “cookery” on Oskicat or search for a particular author or title. But if you have the time, I recommend browsing the shelves for a bit. And if these circulating cookbooks have only whet your appetite, Bioscience also has hundreds of other volumes in its rare cookbook collection. (Check out these titles online by searching for the keywords “Holl collection” in the Bioscience and Natural Resources Library though the books themselves are for library use only.)