Community Cookbooks Are Back!

Last week Penguin Random House announced the impending publication of Family Meal, a charity cookbook to benefit out-of-work chefs and servers, that features contributions from celebrity chefs and cookbook authors. Turns out lots of regular folks around the country are doing the same thing, only without the celebrities. (Or let's call them cookbooks that feature recipes from people who are celebrities in their own small worlds.) These cookbooks benefit charities, religious communities, or just the editors themselves; several have been put together by people who have lost their jobs.

The New York Times has assembled a roundup of many of these new community cookbooks. Unlike their old-school Xeroxed and comb-bound predecessors, most of them exist online only, and they set themselves in direct opposition to glossy "aspirational" commercial cookbooks. "Instead," reporter Priya Krishna writes, "[they take] a practical and personal approach, and documenting life not as it could be, but as it is."

Medical workers say that they find the act of sharing recipes cathartic: it's something tangible and productive instead of overwhelming. Others describe assembling cookbooks as a form of conversation, another way of getting to know their friends and relatives or recovering old family stories. It sure sounds better than sitting on a Zoom call and sharing all the latest news from the couch.