My partner finally spat the dummy about my burgeoning cookbook collection. One book got wet from where it was lined up with a dozen others on the laundry bench. Admittedly it’s not the best place to keep books. But the cupboard that my collection occupies is full, as is a shelf in the kitchen. The laundry bench – spacious and easily accessible from the kitchen – was the next best place. Angrily, he lugged them all off the laundry bench and dumped them on a shelf in the study. It’s not half as convenient. But I get it. Food-related reading material is getting out of hand in our household.
I hardly dared bring home three new cookbooks the following day. But I did anyway. One – which I bought second-hand off Amazon – will be used for research ahead of a gastronomic trip later in the year, another was a review copy of a soon to be launched cookbook that I had requested and will write about for this blog, the third was sent by a publisher in the hope that I’ll review it. And I may well do so, if I get to read it soon.
The problem is, I’m seriously behind schedule with my food-related reading. I always am. There is no catching up. I’ve tried – usually around holiday times. I pack a stack of food books, magazines and essays that I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I quite often (not always) return from holiday having accomplished my task, only to find several monthly magazines that I subscribe to sitting smugly on the doorstep.
I approach Tuesday mornings with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. It’s when the weekly food lift-outs are in the newspapers – three of them at once (Sydney Morning Herald, Good Living; The Age, Epicure; The Daily Telegraph, Taste). I wish they were staggered throughout the week. Then I might be in with a fighting chance.
I carry those lift-outs around in my bag all week. I read them in snatches on the light-rail, in taxis, during the odd lunchtime that I’m unshackled by Fairfax from the desk. If I’m lucky, I get through them by the weekend in time for the weekend magazines’ food and travel-related content. Anything that isn’t read over the weekend gets stuffed in the bag again on Monday morning: reading material for the week ahead. But then Tuesday and the food lift-outs roll round to haunt me again.
There was a moratorium on cookbook buying in my household a few years ago. I banned anyone from buying them for me as gifts. I didn’t renew magazine subscriptions. I could not cope with the constant deluge. I enjoyed a few weeks during which I read past (unread) copies of Australian Gourmet Traveller and Delicious magazines. I found new recipes in old cookbooks. Then I enrolled in the Master of Arts in Gastronomy at the University of Adelaide and the reading got seriously out of control for three years.
And that’s just printed matter. There is electronic content and social media to contend with, too.
The number of unread food-related RSS feeds in my inbox that are taunting me currently is the stuff of nightmares. I purge them every once in a while and promise myself I’ll stay on top of them in future. I do, for a few days. But then it’s Tuesday again, or a random free-magazine-in-a-newspaper-day – the monthly Sydney Magazine, for example – and if it’s just my luck it will be the annual food issue. Or I might log into Twitter.
I have love-hate relationship with Twitter. I’ve learnt how to switch off, but there are times when it becomes downright addictive, too. One of the biggest, regular trap-tweets is from the New York Times crew entitled What We’re Reading: a collection of links by the reporters and editors of the Dining section. I love and hate that tweet, for reasons you can well imagine.
If I’ve subscribed to your food blog, sorry but I probably don’t read your updates regularly. About once a week I rampage around the web cramming in as many blog posts as I can. I’m probably supposed to be watching a movie on the couch with my partner. After a few death stares from his direction I log off. And get a life.
Buying an iPad was supposed to make things easier. But it just makes online food-media more accessible, and therefore my reading list unconquerable. After my last subscription to Gourmet Traveller ended I promised myself I’d purchase the App and build my GT library online. At least it would free up some space on the bookshelf. I promptly forgot and foolishly renewed the subscription to the print magazine about a week ago. I’m going to try to cancel it tomorrow and buy the App instead. My partner would be most impressed. Wish me luck.