Today was all about words. Books, websites, conversations, notes scribbled, missives written.

I am filling the little bookshelf that commemorates Deb’s bookstore with carefully selected books. My first foray into the world of very specialized cookbooks was a search on Amazon a few months ago. The gorgeously photographed and printed tomes on Balsamic vinegar, or Aceto Balsamico, I fell in love with were pricey if available. A quick search showed they are out of print. I met with the local bookseller at The Toadstool and he offered to find in-print books for me at a discount. I didn’t pose a competitive threat as I am only seeking books about Olive Oil and Balsamic vinegar specifically. A few copies drifted in. One busy weekend, a customer identified himself as a purveyor and connoisseur of out-of-print books. While his niche was hunting and fishing tomes, he was also a frequent traveler to Italy and happened to love our store. His offer to help me find copies of some of the more rare issues I sought has blossomed into a friendly education on many fronts, not the least of which is food and books.

First he arrived with armloads of books on loan from his personal library. Soon he brought the prizes, hard copies from a myriad of little known (to the public) sources. I don’t know exactly why books lose favor and go out of print. This one in particular was published in 1999. Richard Jung’s photography is stunning in its warm dark tones, so like balsamic vinegar itself. Pamela Sheldon Johns text invites the reader to smell and taste the history while her recipes are ingeniously simple but mouth-watering.


It has thick, glossy pages, stitched together and encased in cloth-bound hard cover. It lies open, inviting me as no paperback book could posture. When did we lose the art of book-making?



I deal in vinegar all day. I watch as people take their first taste of the true aged Saba, a traditionally produced liquid that has aged up to 18 years in four different barrels. They as do I, marvel that we somehow “fast-food-ized” a simple yet ancient ingredient to the point where no one thinks twice about it in America. Ketchup gets more attention and use. History shows this condiment was treasured, passed down through generations and even part of royal women’s dowries. When we stopped caring where our food came from we also stopped caring how our words were recorded.

Ken, my book friend, brought me sleeves of clear dust cover protectors. He showed me with deft quickness, how to assemble and apply them. I thought it looked like the book covers we used to make in school to protect our text books, except those were usually constructed of brown paper grocery bags or wall paper leftovers. Two more things that have gone the way of the buggy whip. I struggled with the first few then figured out the technique.

While I create my words electronically, the words of others in published form should never be cast aside.

9 thoughts on “Balsamico!

  1. As much as I love my Kindle nothing can replace the feel, the texture, the scent, the beauty of an in-your-hand, deliciously weighted, honest to goodness book. Lovely post Martha.

    BTW – check out the Cookbook Junkies on Facebook sometime. Maybe some additional good leads there as well!

    • Thanks Julie. I agree, even paperbacks don’t compare to the smell of a hardback’s cover. When I first held my book and felt its weight, I knew nothing can replace the printed word.

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