"A shop filled with nothing but food books is a certain form of heaven"
"Indeed, some stores have serious culinary pedigrees: Kitchen Arts and Letters was a favorite of James Beard and Julia Child, and is a necessary pilgrimage spot for food-world celebrities like Ferran Adria. Biddleford, Maine's Rabelais is as beloved by chefs as it is casual readers. And Ben Kinmont Bookseller in Sebastopol, California, is a true scholarly archive, complete with appointments.
It would be easy to make this a diametric divide: old and new, serious and faddish, slick and musty. To imply that one form implies more integrity, the other is a sop to the glossy new wave food porn that attracts fickle culinary day-trippers. But the truth is, that's not how it feels. There are no bad guys in the world of food bookstores; they're all indie booksellers! And food-lovers to boot. The scene as a whole feels fiercely collegial, deeply knowledgeable, and pleasantly obsessive. Keeping a venerable business going is heroic. Launching a new business is heroic. Braving new media is heroic. Wanting to share something you love is heroic, too. And to the customer, both sorts of shop feel necessary, both are beloved. Almost all are the product of fierce and utterly impractical passion.