I find McNally Jackson to be quite unique in that it is small and independently owned, and yet seems to address a wide variety of book categories quite thoughtfully. Most wonderful small bookstores in New York seem to specialize, like the incomparable Kitchen Arts & Letters which has an extraordinary selection of cookbooks, or the charming Idlewild Books which specializes in travel guides, and fiction and memoirs set abroad.
Rather, McNally Jackson spans a broad spectrum with a small but comprehensive cookbook section, all sorts of indie and foreign magazines and journals, a wonderful architecture, design and fashion section, loads of philosophy, non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and they even have a small but excellently chosen stationery section.
After relaxing in the cafe, I made a beeline for the magazine section. After flipping through a few mainstream food and decor magazines, and taking a moment to be depressed that they were out of the French Elle Decor, I moved onto some of the indies and quarterly journals. I found reference in one of them to the apparently seminal design blog (I of course had never heard of it) Swiss Miss, with which I am now somewhat obsessed. I perused the social action magazine Good, but became totally despondent at the state of our water supply as I read so put it down as quickly as I had picked it up. Moving on to happier things, I spied The Diner Journal, a quarterly food publication.
Initial thought: I love the weight of the paper but $9 seems like a lot for such a thin magazine. But then I flipped through to the back and found that the last third of the issue is chock full of recipes. Recipes that I actually wanted to make, almost all of them! Beet salad with tahini dressing sounded particularly appealing. I was newly inspired to do interesting things with the considerable contents of my vegetable drawers, and for that $9 seems a bargain.
I never go to McNally Jackson without taking a spin through the cookbook section, and this day was no exception. My latest yen for a new cookbook is now focused on Vefa's Kitchen, an encyclopedic Greek cookbook I noticed propped up on the display table.
Greek cuisine it seems is often unfairly maligned as mediocre or boring, due I think to the presence of an inexplicably high number of mediocre and boring Greek diners and restaurants. And some people are simply wary of the cuisine due to previous bad experiences with whitefish. But I've had a couple of truly fabulous Greek meals, so I know they do exist, it just takes a bit of effort to find them. I think I could experience many more fabulous Greek meals if this cookbook were given a space on my kitchen bookshelf.
But the real find in this section of the store was Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. Given that I was raised by quite an independent, forward thinking mother and that I myself have thus far pursued a path that tends more towards career woman than homemaker, it is perhaps odd that I have such a fascination with housekeeping. But I find it hard to pass by a book on the subject, and this time was no exception.