I didn’t mean to, really I didn’t. I went to Shakespeare and Co. out of curiosity, not out of a need or even a desire to buy books.
Shakespeare and Co. is an English bookstore, located in the Latin quarter of Paris. It is tucked onto a small street, set just back from the Seine. Since 1951 it has become well known, and as soon as I walk in it’s apparent why. Crammed to the very brim with shelves and shelves of books, there are nooks and crannies, silly signs, and even a piano upstairs that patrons are welcome to play. There is tangible character in this place, and I hear the woman at the till ask (in a heavy Brittish accent), “Would you like me to stamp that?”
I wander. It’s good just to be in a place with so many books, I always find that comforting somehow. It’s good too, to hear english being spoken. My finger trail over authors and titles, I pause on Murakami, Atwood, Robins. Tom Robbins almost gets me, I hold him in my hands, turn away from the shelves, but no – acquiring books is completely impractical at this moment. Especially because there are still hundreds of pages left in Barbra Kingsolver’s Lacuna.
I’m almost out the door when I spot the cookbook section…
Right there, front and centre sits Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I open it, and know instantly that I will buy it.
Yotam Ottolenghi is a favourite chef of the lovely Hayley Rosenberg, but somehow, he never caught me in quite the same way. Thankfully, Jerusalem intervened.
I read the recipes, many of them call for only one or two vegetables and a multitude of spices or herbs. The pictures are gorgeous, and there are anecdotes about the recipes and how they relate to traditional Jerusalem (Jewish, Muslim and Christian) cooking. It is thoughtful, artistic, informative, and filled with love. It epitomizes everything that I want my kitchen to be.
For those of you who don’t have the cookbook, here’s a link for a little inspiration.
I’m now up one large and heavy cookbook, without a kitchen to cook anything in (for the time being), and a completely stuffed suitcase. I don’t regret it one bit.