Interview with Cookbook Author and Collector Kitty Morse

Cookbook Village had the unique opportunity to interview cookbook author Kitty Morse for its Spotlight on Cookbook Collectors interview series. Born in Casablanca, Morse is recognized for her expertise in Moroccan cuisine. She is the author of ten cookbooks, including award winner Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen. What fans may not know about Morse is that she not only authors cookbooks, she is also an enthusiastic cookbook collector! Read on to hear first hand some the interesting details Morse shared with us about her collection. Plus, get the scoop on her new book debuting this Fall.

How did you start out collecting cookbooks? Did you cook first or collect first, then develop the passion to cook?

I became interested in cooking when I immigrated to the US, and needed to “feed” my college roommates. I started with the basics: Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, so I could learn American dishes. One of my favorites was The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne.

How many books do you have in your collection?

Close to 400 (I have donated a partial collection to a university).

What is your cookbook specialization (do you collect a particular category or genre of cookbooks)?

My main thrust is on the cuisines of Morocco and North Africa, in English and in French. My tenth book, Mint Tea and Minarets, a Banquet of Moroccan Memories was just published.

Do you collect cookbooks to cook or to look?

Mainly as reference.

What is the most valuable cookbook in your collection and how much is its estimated value?

A first edition of Fez, Vu par sa Cuisine by Zette Guinaudeau. She wrote the first book on Moroccan cuisine in French. To me, that book is priceless.

What is your favorite collectible cookbook from your collection and why?

It involves Julia Child, as well. I met Julia several times (once cooking alongside her), and when she came to San Diego for a book signing of The Way to Cook, we became involved in such a long conversation that she forgot she had already signed my book. I am perhaps the only one around who has a book signed as Julia Julia Child Child!

How do you display and organize your collection (on shelves alphabetically, by certain categories, dates, etc).

I have been looking for the perfect way to organize my books for 30 years! I am stuck in the “by country” mode.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in getting started with cookbook collecting?

Buy what you love to read and cook!



About Kitty Morse

Kitty Morse was born in Casablanca, Morocco, of a French mother and British father. She arrived in the United States in 1964 to attend college, and obtained her Master's Degree in French at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. From 1983 to 2007, she organized an annual gastronomic tour to Morocco that included cooking demonstrations in her family home, an Moorish riad in Azemmour, Morocco.

Kitty is the author of ten cookbooks, including the award winning Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen, now in its ninth printing from Chronicle Books. She turned author/publisher for the second edition of A Biblical Feast. The Vista Farmer’s Market, the oldest in SD County, inspired The California Farm Cookbook, a collection of recipes from California farmers. Kitty still visits the market most Saturday mornings. Her articles on food and travel have appeared in the Eating Well, Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Sunset, and Fine Cooking. Her latest book, a memoir of Morocco with recipes is titled Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories (photo left) and is slated for publication in Fall 2012

Learn more about Kitty Morse