Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cookbook Structure - Need Advice!

I've run into my first real hurdle with this cookbook: how the heck do I structure it to help a beginner find what they need? Initially, I started by food type in alphabetical order, just like an index. Example:

beef dish A
beef dish B
spinach dish A
spinach dish B

But that was getting increasingly cluttered as this thing grew. And, it duplicates what the index does. So I've reorganized it by food category:

beef dish A
beef dish B
chicken dish A
chicken dish B
cheese dish A
cheese dish B

But I'm having doubts. For one thing, even the most basic food categories seem up for debate. With plant products, should I proceed directly to standard culinary subdivisions of fruits, grains, vegetables, beans, nuts? Do peanuts go under nuts, or beans; do tomatoes go under vegetables, or fruits? Most importantly, how do I make these arbitrary decisions and not lose an audience of non-cooks in the process?

I would love feedback on this. Thanks.

[edit] How do you use cookbooks? How would you expect a total beginner to use a cookbook?

I may have to include a short section at the beginning of the book entitled "how to use this book". And I want this thing to be thoroughly indexed. But I don't want the index to be the default way into the book. Which is silly, because I always start reading cookbooks from the index. . .

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