I’m not sure what compelled me to get under there. Maybe it was a lustiness that arose from the shirtless, tanned, fish-tossing-in-a-rough-ocean photo towards the beginning of the book that make me remove the dust jacket on Chef Ludo Lefevbre’s first book, Crave: The Feast of the Five Senses. Since that first time, I’ve wiggled my hands under the cover of many a hardcover cookbook to see what I might find or quickly bent back a front over to peek between the glossy paper and cardboard cover. Often enough the results are uninspired, a design space forgotten. But once in a while I hit the jackpot and discover lush photographs or gentle textures and reap my reward by carefully running my fingertips over the book with a glassy-eyed gaze. My heart swells, my stomach growls and my grin widens.
Chef Ludo’s interior is elegant enough, a blacked-out background with khaki-colored text. Organic swirls mimic the title on the cover, the black and off-white print play up his then edgy-rockstar cooking style:
Others simply utilize the space to mimic their cover art, such as Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco, and Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home. Not exactly inspired, but better than nothing:
Some go as understated and tasteful as desired… not just on book covers…
Melissa Clark has twin-spines on a natural-chic paper imprinted with silver text, tea kettles and utensils for her Cook This Now and In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite:
Patricia Wells chooses a vibrant but simple design using a bright green to echo Salad as a Meal’s subject matter:
Her good friend, Ina Garten, chose a similar striped and colorful pattern for some of her books, but her most recent book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof takes a muted green printed with the title:
But going the text-only route doesn’t doesn’t have to be blah at all. Flo Braker’s Baking for All Occasions plays with the chapters of the book by running them around the book in alternating colors:
I picked up this little volume called Punch by Colleen Mullaney just after New Year’s when I was feeling quite bubbly. Under this dust cover is an appropriately punchy design to match:
Judith Jones keeps it particularly classy with a faux lace spine and scripted title, elegant as always for The Pleasures of Cooking for One:
And, the be all end all in this department is hands down the beauty beneath Ian Knauer’s The Farm dust jacket. Salivating cover photography gives way to lush platters of greens on a rustic table. Props must be given to the lovely ladies of Canal House Cooks, Christopher Hirscheimer and Melissa Hamilton who did his photography. #1 Stunner:
From here on out I expect you to start peeping under the covers. Please report back any dazzling finds to me! Comment with title and author or tweet or email me a photo [theculinarylibrarian[at]gmail.com].