The Atlantic has a story about the long history of cookbooks serving as status symbols. The piece examines how cookbooks were clearly marketed to specific classes, such as the obviously titled Plain Cookery for the Working Classes, published in 1847.
It’s an interesting piece and well worth a read.
However, what strikes me about this notion of cookbooks as status symbols is the lavish production quality of many contemporary volumes.
Lushly photographed, elaborately bound, these are more art texts than something that I (maybe I’m weird here) feel comfortable getting dirty in the kitchen. I have even gone so far as to purchase the hard copy book because it was so damn beautiful and then buying the e-book version to actually use while leaning over the stove.