Jose Andres Hitchhiked Across Europe To Buy His First Cookbook

We get the feeling that Jose Andres never half-asses anything, whether it’s his food, or his childlike euphoria at the bounty of the world. This may explain his book collection, as profiled by the New York Times, which totals around 1500 tomes: his dining room is “overflowing” with books, his office in Washington contains nearly 400 more, and there are “boxes and boxes” of unpacked books lying around somewhere.

Unsurprisingly, nearly all of them are about food. What is surprising, though, is the thoroughness and depth of his collection (so there aren’t twenty copies of Semi-Homemade Cool Kids Cooking or something):

His eclectic library includes an 1825 first edition of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’sPhysiology of Taste”; a rents and receipts notepad from 1795 that belonged to Honoré Julien, Thomas Jefferson’s chef; and Japanese comic books that relate the history of Japanese cooking. Add to these a 1931 first edition of Irma Rombauer’sJoy of Cooking”; an 1851 edition of “The Virginia Housewife,” written by Mary Randolph in 1824; and the first cookbook Mr. Andrés ever bought, “The Cuisine of Frédy Girardet,” from one of the celebrated masters of nouvelle cuisine.

And even more surprising is the story of what he did in order to get a copy of that first cookbook: that summer, he had made a food pilgrimage to Giradet’s restaurant in Switzerland, and used his bus money for the return trip to Barcelona to purchase his idol’s book.  Penniless, he hitchhiked back to Barcelona where he was to attend cooking school, and in that summer, “he cooked his way through half the book.”

Like we said. Andres does not know what “half-assing” is. What have you done with your life lately?


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