In Seattle, where literary minds and culinary hearts meet, the cookbook has become a work of art in and of itself. When Book Larder, the city’s first bookstore dedicated solely to culinary literature, opened in Fremont last month, that art finally found its venue.
On a crisp Wednesday in October, a group of almost two dozen women (and a sole gentleman) gathered for the store’s inaugural event, an evening with local chef and seafood advocate Becky Selengut, who would be demonstrating several recipes from her book, Good Fish. On the menu for the evening: sardines on crackers with caramelized onions, and potato-and-beet latkes with horseradish sour cream and caviar.
Selengut sourced the crowd, and two women bravely admitted to being unsure about the sardines. Meeting the challenge with a smile, she snapped on the stainless steel gas stove for her first demonstration.
It was the opener in a series of monthly Book Larder events featuring a different chef or foodie. from local names to national stars. In addition to these events, the shop—inspired by the late literary firebrand Kim Ricketts and opened by Lara Hamilton—offers collectible and imported books, chef biographies, classes and, of course, cookbooks.
“I hope that we will be a place where food lovers in Seattle and people who like to cook or even people who like beautiful books can feel like they have a place to meet and hang out and grow and learn as a community,” Hamilton said. After less than a month of operation, optimism and excitement still underlined her voice.
Back at the stove, Selengut was showing the crowd how to fry the perfect latke. The round cakes popped as they hit the pan and the store filled with the warm smell of frying potatoes. A shop assistant passed out the sardine-and-cracker appetizer, and a murmur of approval ran through the assembled group. When the tray reached the staunchest sardine skeptic, Selengut et al watched as she gingerly lifted the fish-laden cracker to her mouth and bit in. The woman swallowed the first bite, raised her hand, smiled and proclaimed, “I have found sardine Jesus!”