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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Food and Drink I

Marian Gore in 1974
Credit: Los Angeles Times
One of the early visitors to the first bookshop I opened in Pasadena, California in 1979 was an attractive, stylishly dressed lady who introduced herself as Marian Gore, seller of cook books.  I can’t remember what Marian purchased on that first visit but I came to look forward to her visits, to enjoy her sly wit whenever Pasadena area booksellers gathered, to admire her offerings at Book Fairs, and to look forward to her wonderful food and drink catalogs. 

This was in the days when collectable book identification and comparative values could often only be guessed at after searching many volumes of “Bookman’s Price Index” and “American Book Prices Current” in the local library.  If you were lucky enough to find a reference, it might be from a catalog or auction that occurred 5, 10  or more years previous. And there were precious few listings of food and drink items, so Marian’s catalogs were treasure maps to what was worthwhile in the food and drink collecting world.

Marian passed away in 2009 at the age of 95 and she had a profound influence on the book world.  I know she influenced me, for every book shop I have been associated with since meeting her has featured distinctive contemporary and rare food and drink books.

Wilkerson and Brooks Books in Halifax, Virginia is no different.  We have a fine selection of food and drink books.  A couple of current examples:

On the contemporary side, we have a signed copy of Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters.  If you’re ever on the west bank of the U.S., you should plan a visit to Ms. Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkerly, California...both the downstairs restaurant and the more casual upstairs cafe are exceptional.  When my son was attending law school in Berkerly and scored a rent controlled apartment on Arch Avenue, I used to visit him and enjoy joining the early morning crowd at the original Peet’s Coffee down the street, wandering down to Peter Howard’s original Serendipity Books on Shattuck, returning to Robert's apartment and counting our money to see if we still had enough, after the book purchases, to celebrate at Chez Panisse Cafe.  It was a great way to cap off the day.

You can enjoy a sampling of Alice Waters’ trend setting take on food with this Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, printed in 1982, signed by Ms. Waters.  It's in very good condition with an unclipped dust jacket and it’s priced at $25. 

On the collectable side, we have an inscribed First Edition of Here Let Us Feast by M. F. K. Fisher, whom many consider the greatest American food and drink writer of the 20th Century. To quote Clifton Fadiman, “She (Ms. Fisher) writes about food as others do about love, but rather better.”  And I believe it’s no small recommendation that when Marian Gore retired from bookselling, she donated all her books, save two.  One of the two books she could not part with was by    M. F. K. Fisher.  

Our copy of Here Let Us Feast s a very good first edition with a slightly worn, price clipped dust jacket.  It was published in New York in 1946 and is inscribed by Ms. Fisher on the ffep: 

"Charles Newton
for Chuck with Love from MF
St. Helena, 5.xl or ‘18, ’69"

                     It is priced at $375.

Thank you.  Happy Book Hunting

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