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OP: The Supper of the Lamb

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by Robert Farrar Capon

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989. Hardcover. Near Fine.

One of our most durable reading books about food, The Supper of the Lamb, has been (nearly) continuously in print, including three separate hardcover editions in the fifty plus years since its publication. 

Robert Capon (1925–2003) was an Episcopal priest and an avid writer with more than twenty books to his credit. This is the best known—and surely the bestselling. 

Somewhat of a tour de force, it is a “cookbook” (loosely defined as such) led by its commentary rather than its recipes. Father Capon presents cooking instructions for a single meal, examining each ingredient and process in rigorous detail. But he explores, in gracefully readable form, not only practical kitchen issues but also deeper questions rooted in the history, symbolism, and, naturally, religion that underlie the process. For example, one chapter devotes nearly twelve pages to the onion: how to cut it and how to think about it. The book is charming, original, and for the ages.

Although it became a huge seller after its publication by Doubleday in 1969, it was not surprising that a one-meal cookbook (it was a lamb stew, by the way) did not begin life with a large printing; first editions are not common and are generally expensive. 

Our copy is a Near Fine, price clipped, example of the 1989 Farrar, Straus and Groux edition, a store favorite, as Kitchen Arts and Letters was the imprint—one of two books for which we had the privilege—in an effort to keep the book in print. Also available, in print, in paperback.

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