In an ideal world, or at least mine, there would be more bookstores like Rabelais: independent, specialized and focused with owners that care. Just turning 4 years old, owners Don and Samantha Hoyt Lindgren, offer a combination of new, used and antiquarian (rare) cooking, gardening and wine books. It is just one more reason (besides the great food) to head to Portland, Maine.
And the owners know their books and customers. They pointed me to a lovely gem that is almost impossible to find. In fact, it is representative of the Lindgrens' expertise and the pleasure of a great bookstore that they knew I would love it. It is titled, "A Vegetable Collection" and is a beautiful little hardback. Inside are vegetable recipes designed for children to love. The best part? Not a single recipe is "dumbed down." Instead, you can make "Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts" or "Buttery Grated Kholrabi!" The book is ordered seasonally to take advantage of the best produce. The second part of the book are vegetable poems designed to make children giggle. Throughout are lovely watercolors.
Although the square footage is relatively small (especially compared to nameless chain stores) it would be easy to spend hours peering through the delicate rare copies of out-of-print books, and hard to find magazines.
If, for some reason, you can't find a good enough reason to go to Portland, Rabelais still has a great website for virtual cookbook looking. But I will head back to the store.
Rabelais, 86 Middle Street, Portland, Maine, 207-774-1044