The Cooks Bookery, a stand for used recipe books, pops up in Bixby Park Farmers Market

Thanksgiving is coming up and that means a lot of us are going to be cooking. Maybe you’re taking on the entire holiday dinner, or perhaps it’s just a dish to bring with you to contribute to the table, but whatever your roll (no pun intended) the chances are that many of us are going to be hitting the books to look up recipes.

The Cooks Bookery, a used cookbook pop-up at the Bixby Park Farmers Market every Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m., is filled with recipes to satisfy every curiosity, want, or need, offering recipes without annoying pop-up ads or long self-important essays.

“I look up things online, too. I look up recipes online and that’s very convenient sometimes, but a lot of cookbooks have more information than what you can find in a recipe online,” says Jeffrey Nelson, 61, owner of The Cooks Bookery.

“There’s a lore of food. A whole history of food—a lot of the books specialize in one thing, like seafood or vegan food,” he says. “ I think you can learn a lot, I think it enriches your cooking to have cookbooks.”

His book inventory changes regularly and spans every indigenous food mecca from every corner of the world, and addresses every subject from chocolate to bread, to pain au chocolat.

People pass by his tables of books and browse while on their way to fill up on fruits and vegetables for the week, and for a few bucks (prices vary depending on the book) they walk away with a book of recipes that may teach them to transform their cloves of garlic into spreadable delicacies with nothing but a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Or maybe give them the courage to attempt a pomegranate and cinnamon lacquered duck, as I did from Rocco DiSpirito’s “Flavor,” circa 2003.

“I love books for the artifacts that they are, the relics of another time,” says Nelson. “Some of my books are old, and I like reading old books—it’s like time travel,” he says of the historical aspect of food, referring to how it’s changed, and how much more diverse our diets are now compared to how they use to be.

“I like the history, and it’s fun to cook.” History is important to Nelson, as a writer for rainbopedia.org, an online archive of global LGBTQ history, current events, and personal stories.

Consider this, as you make memories planning your dishes this Thanksgiving: Without the printed word, history wouldn’t be history, it would only be hearsay. And in the case of food, it would be nothing but a memory of something you once ate.

The Cooks Bookery is at the Bixby Park Farmers Market every Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. It’s also on Instagram: @thecookbookery. 

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