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Gastronome Library

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I am going on vacation and need some recs for a little culinary reading. Between our dining schedule and the beach I hope to get several books in. What is in your foodie collection? What are your standbys and bookends? Thanks for the help!

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  1. Don't miss Jeffery Steingarten's "The Man Who Ate Everything" and Anthony Bourdain's "The Nasty Bit's". And, if your vacation culinary travels are waining, pick up a copy of Thomas Harris' book "Hannibal Rising". Harris is on par with the very best of the food writers, just with a different bent.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Leper

      Steingarten's "The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything" is great as well.

      1. re: heathermb

        Another vote for both Steingarten books - hilarious and very informative. I think that "the return of the man who ate everything" is actually the sequel's subtitle; the main title is "It must've been something I ate." I was about to recommend specific essays but then I realized I'd just list almost all of them -- it's too hard to choose.

        I'm also a huge fan of John Thorne as well -- his most recent book "Pot on the Fire" is my favorite. He's extraordinarily insightful without ever being pedantic or precious. His essay "Knowing nothing about wine" is my favorite piece about wine, ever.

        I'll also put in a plug for Jacques Pepin's memoir "The Apprentice" - not deep, but a nice light read and it just made me love him even more than I already did.

        I also liked Ruth Reichl's 1st and 3rd autobiographical books - "Tender at the Bone" and "Garlic and Sapphires." I think the 1st is the better of the two, but the third was interesting as well, especially for the behind-the-scenes dish about the Times. I mostly hated her 2nd book "Comfort me with apples" -- kind of a paean to her own fabulousness.

    2. By all means get Bill Buford's Heat. I couldn't put it down.

      Anything by Calvin Trillen would be fun on vacation too.

      The Thomas Harris suggestions just made me laugh out loud. Fun, but I always want liver, fava beans and a nice Chianti after reading them.

      1. If you are looking for "science and lore of food" category, pick up Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking." He's the original "Alton Brown" who describes things like how milk is processed (it doesn't see the light of day from when it leaves the cow to when you open the carton!) or if you are looking for a light read try John Thorne's "Outlaw Cook", "Simple Cooking" or "Serious Pig."

        If you read Simple Cooking, you get a recipe for a chocolate cake that is super rich, super moist and super delicious. Although it's all from boxes and with sour cream. Still really good. Outlaw Cook provides a recipe for a no machine lemon ice cream.

        All books are entertaining. A last choice would be Patience Gray's "Honey from a Weed." This is basically a description of her culinary journey through Europe, but it is poetic and a darn good read.

        1. Depending on what demographic you fall into, you might like a new release called Sound Bites, a compilation of food essays written by the frontman of Franz Ferdinand, Alex Kapranos. It's sort of a rock star-smitten-with-Bourdain's take on eating while on tour. For those who question his credibility, he's a former linecook. It's not heavy or serious and you could easily finish it during an afternoon on the beach.

          1. I heartily recommend the Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin. Kitchen Confidential, A Cook's Tour, and The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain.