I was lucky enough to meet Betty Vandy and try some of her amazing food at the Granby Street Market. I told her about the Sankofa project, exploring Liverpool's Black experience, and she told me all about her cook book collection. I'll let Betty tell you more:
"My books are almost as important as the food I cook. I started collecting my now nearing three hundred strong cook book collection well over twenty two years ago.
I remember my first significant purchases, a set of seven vintage cook books published in the 1960s, I paid five pounds and they were and still are in excellent condition. But more importantly the recipes are detailed, accurate and they work! It gradually snowballed from there till now and I have a very personal collection of vintage, second hand, old, new, well-worn and sauce covered cookbooks. I have West African, East African, Caribbean, Greek, Israeli, Creole, Classic English recipes within my book collection. The Bryant Terry, Afro Vegan is one of my favourite cook books. They’re all like my babies though. I actually know when one isn’t there and I can more or less hunt out a specific recipe from within my collection, quicker than Google search engine.
A small selection of Betty's books
My books are the legacy of who I am; Betty Vandy the passionate plant based cook, business owner of Bettylicious Cooks and budding author.
My vision is to write about my food journey, the African, Creole, Soul Food I grew up eating and cooking. It’s the food of my grandmothers, my ancestors, I feel compelled to tell their story."
Our top tips for looking after your books collections from the experts in our conservation department include:
- When handling, make sure your hands are clean and try and support the covers when opening so you’re not bending them back too much.
- When cleaning, dust regularly and keep the covers closed so the dust doesn’t fall between the pages.
- Resist cramming your books too closely together so they have room for air to circulate around them.
- Keep your books out of direct sunlight.
- Store books that are a similar size together and really big books should be stored on their side.