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Nov 27, 2007 07:05 AM

Food books for Christmas

My Aunt made the declaration that our family, instead of drawing names, was going to exchange cookbooks with a value of $25. A great idea....for about 1/2 of my family. For the other 1/2 it will be wasted money. I'd like to know if there are food related books out there that would be of interest to the non-chef. Could be a novel, fact book, whatever. Something besides a cookbook. Age range and lifestyles are so different, (24 yr old college student to 70 yr old retired grandfather) so I know I won't be able to please everyone. thanks.

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  1. For the 24 year old, I think anything Bourdain would be a good pick.

    Michael Ruhlman has written a number of excellent "food / chef" books. I think his works would be a good fit for anyone.

    5 Replies
    1. re: gatorfoodie

      I agree with the Bourdain recommendation. My husband is a 35 year old lawyer who couldn't care less about cooking or cookbooks and he thoroughly enjoyed 'Kitchen Confidential'.

      1. re: ms. clicquot

        Absolutely bourdain. hands down. the les halles cookbook is also a great gift...and it's not just a cookbook, it's a great "beginners guide" to french cooking...bedside and stoveside reading :) Bourdain is just universally appealing, and totally not snobby in his food writing

        1. re: saramcgovern

          Another vote for Bourdain. I was an ultra-picky eater and i thoroughly enjoyed Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour. They actually helped me get over my pickiness and made me more adventurous with what I would try. Will i eat a cobra's heart? Uhh, no, But i love thai and sushi now. :)

          And I got the Les Halles cookbook 2 years ago and have served up several tasty dishes from it.

          Bourdain is just a fantastic writer.

        2. re: ms. clicquot

          I would also suggest "Don't Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs", a compilation of hysterically funny stories telling what it's like when it DOESN"T go like it usually does on TV. Bourdain's story is particularly hysterical. He tells the tale of a New Year's Eve in a kitchen with a, shall we say, chemically impaired staff and a chef who planned a no-cooking-ahead menu. The Two Hot Tamales also contribute a wild tale of Spilled Soup.

        3. re: gatorfoodie

          Bourdain's cookbook is a great read and the recipes are awesome, but you really need to have a strong interest in some fairly involved cooking to get much use out of it: he doesn't cut any corners, and his dishes aren't simple. Kitchen Confidential, though, is utterly entertaining.

        4. Fast Food Nation is pretty eye opening. I also love Jeffrey Steingarten's books (The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate).

          4 Replies
          1. re: Megiac

            The brand-new SECRET INGREDIENTS, an anthology of food writing from The New Yorker magazine, should have something for just about everybody. I plan to pick up a copy today.

            1. re: Megiac

              I found "Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan to be another eye-opener, and a good read.

              1. re: coney with everything

                Also Pollan's book, "The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World."

              2. re: Megiac

                I bought the Steingarten book a few weeks ago and whizzed through it, enjoying his scholarly approach, his outstanding writing style, and laughing aloud frequently.

              3. The first book that popped into my mind is, Peter Mayle's "My Year in Provence." So about food on many different levels.

                1. Bourdain (Kitchen Condifential) is great, but if you don't thoroughly enjoy Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, I will personally buy it back from you! It is a really great read. Her Tender at the Bone is also a wonderful read... whether you are a foodie or not.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bnemes3343

                    Great book! Oddly enough I love to read, and love food & cooking but never put the 2 together before reading that particular book. Now I seek out the novel section of the cooking section at Barnes and Nobles. They have quite a selection and you can really browse the titles to see what may appeal to your grab bag pick!

                  2. Agree with all who suggest Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, and Reichl's books. While I haven't read Ruhlman's books yet (hope to if I get them at Christmastime!), based on his blog writing, I know I'll like it.

                    What about Calvin Trillin's Tummy Trilogy as well?