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Books About Food (memoirs and the like--NOT COOKBOOKS): Favorites & Recommendations

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theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 15, 2010 09:24 PM

I've recently completed the irreverent memoir Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, and I'm eager to read other memoirs of this genre. What I liked most about Bourdain's book, in addition to the high quality of writing, was his sense of humor combined with a professional's respect for food and for many of his colleagues (e.g., Ripert). Bourdain has the writing talents of a polished storyteller, as many of you know. I intend to read other books by him, if recommended, and I seek, as well, books by other chefs, critics, and the like. I am a serious "foodie", not a snob, but seeking reading material about food and related topics of only the highest quality. Thank you for any replies.

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  1. goodhealthgourmet RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 15, 2010 09:55 PM

    i haven't had the chance to read Bourdain's latest, Medium Raw, but i'm really looking forward to it - i hear it's terrific. since you enjoyed Kitchen Confidential, i'd recommend reading The Nasty Bits as well.

    some other great ones:
    - Heat by Bill Buford
    - Michael Ruhlman's trilogy about the life of the professional chef: Soul of a Chef, Making of a Chef, and Reach of a Chef
    - The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate, both by Jeffrey Steingarten
    - any of Ruth Reichl's books
    - any of Calvin Trillin's food writing
    - Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White
    - The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

    and so many more!

    these should help:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/605961
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/546555
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/498301
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/750821
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683479

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      Sal Vanilla RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 15, 2010 10:05 PM

      Something completely diff from Bourdain -
      The White House Chef. Written by the chef for Clinton and GW Bush.
      Keeping The Feast by Paula Butturini.

      Two completely different books.
      Also, my fave - and I have rec'ed it here before:
      A Thousand Days in Venice. Not a chef's memoir, but a thoroughly foody book. Cannot remember the author.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sal Vanilla
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        lemons RE: Sal Vanilla Dec 17, 2010 08:15 PM

        I believe Marlena de Blaise is the author of the Venice book. She's an American, and the book is far better than her restaurant criticism was. I, too, endorse Mrs. Fisher, Bud Trillin and Laurie Colwin. I also enjoy Nigella Lawson's narrative sections of her cookbooks, especially her discussion of a British Christmas.And Elizabeth David, whose recipes are vague if you're not an experienced cook, but the descriptions surrounding them are delicate and enticing. Someone said about her writing, which began in the lean years after WW II, that reading her writing about a lemon in those ration-laden years was like reading pornography.

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        sibeats RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 16, 2010 02:25 AM

        I agree Michael Ruhlman's trilogy is great.
        Heat also a really enjoyable read.
        Steingarten never pulled my interest....found the Man Who Ate Everything to be rather boring. Loved Reichl's books.
        Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
        My Life in France - Julia Child
        Daniel Boulud's - Letters to a Young Chef
        all of Bourdain's books are fun, but if you watch No Reservations it's sometimes like hearing him narrate and episode in your head.

        1. Withnail42 RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 16, 2010 04:23 AM

          I can't say enough nice things about 'My Life in France.' Julia child in her own words talking about the magic of living in Paris (and France). It is also a wonderful look at her marvelous relationship with Paul. A real gem of a book. A read that you can't put down but one you don't want to end.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Withnail42
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            karenfinan RE: Withnail42 Dec 17, 2010 08:42 AM

            I absoultely agree, I read it several years ago, and it is one of the best books I have read in a decade. a real treat and delight. Julia was an amazing woman in many ways.

          2. mcgeary RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 16, 2010 07:44 AM

            You owe it to yourself to read M.F.K. Fisher, who was truly an amazing and perceptive writer about food. The Gastronomical Me and How to Cook a Wolf are my favorites of hers. (I also heartily endorse Bill Buford's Heat, anything by Calvin Trillin and The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: mcgeary
              k
              karenfinan RE: mcgeary Dec 17, 2010 08:43 AM

              +1 on all but Nigel Slater, haven't read him, guess I should check him out since I like the others so well.

              1. re: karenfinan
                Withnail42 RE: karenfinan Dec 17, 2010 08:52 AM

                I've read 'Toast' a little rambeling but worth a look.

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              yfunk3 RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 16, 2010 10:51 AM

              I don't suppose Upton Sinclair's THE JUNGLE would be too high on anyone's list, would it? :o)

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                tomatoaday RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 17, 2010 08:38 AM

                John Thorne, Laurie Colwin, James Villas, James Beard, Craig Claiborne, Elizabeth David. Most have recipes but also thoughtful and personal views on food. Jacque Pepin's autobiography and as mentioned here M.F. K. Fisher, Julia Child - when you look there are really a lot and reading some they will reference others. I thought Jeffrey Steingartens books were hilarious. I only read the first Ruth Reichly but didn't care for it enough to read subsequent books.

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                  tjdnewyork RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 17, 2010 08:47 AM

                  AJ Liebling's Between Meals. Awesome. Will make you very hungry.

                  1. buttertart RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 17, 2010 03:32 PM

                    Two old favorites and a new: Joseph Wechsberg's "Blue Trout and Black Truffles", on food and life in old Vienna, and George Lang's "The Food of Hungary", a cookbook but primarily a wonderful resource on Hungarian food - and the new Lonely Planet pb "A Moveable Feast", articles by a wide range of travel writers on the encounter with food while traveling - this is really a fun book.

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                      Squint RE: theoreticalphenogroup14 Dec 17, 2010 04:47 PM

                      The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin is very good, I agree with other posters on the Michael Ruhlman's books...I think The Soul of a Chef is the one that has in depth looks at Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and Michael Symon (pre-Iron Chef) at Lola.

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