Shelf Esteem is a weekly measure of the books on the shelves of writers, editors, and other word lovers, as told to Emily M. Keeler. This week’s shelf belongs Corey Mintz, the man behind the Toronto Star’s weekly dinner party, Fed. Mintz is a former professional cook and still keeps his home kitchen up to municipal code. He is also the author of the forthcoming book How to Host a Dinner Party.
Mintz’s books are kept in various space saving devices throughout his very neat Toronto third floor apartment, which is decorated with repeating shades of blue and white. When he brought out a few selections from his thousands of comic books, we sat on his bedroom floor and fanned them out around us.
I actually cleaned this shelf up the other night. This is sort of all general, but there is more reference stuff. This Flavor Thesaurus is gorgeous. It’s great. Between that and Culinary Artistry—which is just straight-up lists of classically accepted food pairings, and is really helpful, in a dry sense—but then this is like the opposite. When you look up something like Cashews, and Lamb, and maybe it’s a poem in there, or something. Sometimes it’s a story. Sometimes it’s a recipe. It’s more of a personal interpretation of why these flavours work well. Most often I’ll reach for this when I’ve got a guest who’s like, I don’t eat this or that, but they do say one thing, like I love lamb, I love shrimp. Or if I’ve got that ingredient myself. Then I’m like what’s one new thing. I think sometimes you’re reading, and you’re like, Cucumber and Shellfish, cucumber and shellfish, and you’re going through it, and you’ll be like, Oh! Maybe a sandwich. You get an idea.
There’s a prized possession. Fantastic Four. I guess that’s my lowest issue.
I started collecting comic books when I was nine. I think there was a kid at school who told me about them. I knew of them, I had these two uncles—who I now realize...Back then I thought they were super cool, they had comic books and toys. But now, I get it. I’m them. Whenever they’d see me they’d give me a comic book. It didn’t click then, that these guys were way too old to be living with their mother.
And then I had a friend in grade four, and there was this connection between the Amazing Spiderman cartoon, which I was really into, and something about the X-Men. He told me about the X-Men. And sometime in that period I went to the comic book store and got X-Men No. 184, and Secret Wars No...6? Don’t quote me on that, it might’ve been 7. But that was it. I was totally addicted. But that’s the weird thing about superheroes. You’re hooked for life.