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Aug 7, 2008 01:34 PM

Foodie Book Discussion (Not Cookbooks)

My two greatest past times: eating and reading.

I have read some excellent food related non fiction books thus far this summer and was wondering if anyone else had. My favoritive this summer has been The Zen of Sushi which examines sushi from all standpints (economy, culture, etc). Currently I'm reading The Soul of a Chef by Ruhlman. I have to say I have thourghly enjoyed all Ruth Reichels books.

Anyone have some favoritives to share or a favoritive food writing author?

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  1. I have Zen of Sushi in my TBD file.

    I have been skimming through A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in North America by Rowan Jacobsen. Its been excellent. I have been wondering about all the different kinds of oysters that could be had, where they came from, how they taste and why they taste that way. This book answers all of that.

    I really enjoyed "The Last Chinese Chef", its a novel which tries to present the culinary culture and philosophy of China.

    I also have a few others sitting on my shelfs TBD.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Phaedrus

      Zen of Fish made for a very interesting read, especially if you are unfamiliar with the origins of sushi and its historical development.

      1. re: Phaedrus

        I just finished "The Last Chinese Chef" a few days ago, and was coming to this thread to recommend it -- really great book, and the food descriptions and history is excellent.

        1. re: JasmineG

          Yes -- this was my airplane reading coming back from the UK last month. Fascinating -- good story, super food descriptions and very educational on Chinese cuisine and culture. I learned a lot and was entertained well -- could not recommend this one enough.

      2. I enjoyed Heat by Bill Buford and I've loved everything I've read by Ruhlman (The Making of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef and The Reach of a Chef).

        I just received Cornbread Nation 4:The Best of Southern Food Writing and I'm anxious to dig into that (pun intended). I've never read any of these collections.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Boudleaux

          I have the first collection and loved it. Never got around to the others, but you just nudged me to add them to my Amazon wish list.

        2. Here are some books that I've read recently: Around the World in 80 Dinners : The Ultimate Culinary Adventure by Cheryl Jamison and Bill Jamison; Bottomfeeder : How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle : A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver; The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan; The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee. The Zen of Sushi sounds interesting. I'll add it to my list.

          9 Replies
          1. re: solidgold

            solidgold, how do you feel about Jennifer 8 Lee's book?

            I have most of the book read by skimming around from chapter to chapter. I nearly lost my mind trying to read it as a book, but when I read it as a series of essays it worked well.

            1. re: Phaedrus

              I'm an ABC (american-born chinese), so I found it quite interesting. Also, the author is my friend's sister, so that probably helped too. Some of the chapters were quite fun, like the chapter on the best chinese restaurant in the world. Others were not as interesting, like the chapter on that poor family that moved down to GA (at least that's what I remember). I like the concept of twelve publishing. I've also read The Geography of Bliss (which was also a fun read, but unrelated to food).
              I have a few other food related books that are on my list if you're interested.

              1. re: solidgold

                I am an MIT (Made In Taiwan) so I found it very interesting too, especially about General Tso's chicken. I guess what I found discombobulating is how wide ranging the topics are and the point of view it. It all makes sense once I realized that she had written these at different times.

                1. re: Phaedrus

                  I guess I'm a NAG(No Asian Genealogy). It sounds like such a broad subject can it even be covered as a whole in one book?

              2. re: Phaedrus

                I think Jennifer 8 Lee's Book was good. It jumped around a lot but overall was very interesting. For anyone in NYC I see she's been doing some readings at the Tenement Museum in LES.

                1. re: MsAlyp

                  She's doing a reading here in Tampa as part of a Kosher Jewish Cooking event. I can't go, but I am halfway through reading it now.

              3. re: solidgold

                How was that omnivores dilemma? I almost bought the other day, but was afraid it would make me crazy about what and what not to eat..

                1. re: mmuch

                  It will... but that is exactly why you should read it. :)

                  1. re: mmuch

                    That's what I love about Pollan - he never tells you not to eat anything, just gives you the story behind it and lets you make your own decision.

                    That said, an article he wrote on the cattle industry is the reason I haven't eaten beef in 8 years.

                2. "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry"
                  "The Sushi Economy"
                  "Gumbo Tales"

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    How did you like "Sushi Economy." It opened my eyes to the impact of tuna!

                  2. Backstage with Julia by Nancy Verde Barr.
                    Alice Waters and Chez Panisse (not the cookbook)
                    Just starting The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (I believe there's an explanation for the middle "8.")

                    1 Reply