For those of you who tone down the tomes in favor of lighter reads I just picked up "The Cookbook Conspiracy" by Katie Carlisle for an upcoming trip to the beach. Light, fun, food based murder mystery. I also took out from the library "Garlic and Saphires" by Ruth Reichl.
What is on your (food related) summer reading list?
I don't have any food writing on my summer list (and, thus, will be watching this post like a hawk for new ideas), but I love Jeffrey Steingarten's books, The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate. Likewise, and more recently, Judith Jones's Tenth Muse and Maddhur Jaffrey's Climbing the Mango Trees. Just lovely, and they made me hungry.
For general food-related reading I enjoyed:
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn - A true story of a woman displaced from the workforce due to a downsizing. She uses her savings to head to Paris and attend the Cordon Bleu.
The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America and The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman were both enjoyable, quick reads with interesting insights into culinary school and the journey to be a chef.
For travel and food related reading I'd recommend:
An Embarrassment of Mangoes or The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof - True accounts of a couple in their 40's who decide to take a break from the corporate world to sail the Caribbean and enjoy the wonderful food and culture the islands have to offer. Both are very quick reads, perfect for beach reading.
A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean by Melinda Blanchard. If you've ever travelled to Anguilla you may have dined at Blanchard's a restaurant that's at the heart of this book. A tale of a husband and wife team that give up their food business in Vermont and take a risk on realizing their dream of opening a restaurant in the Caribbean. A terrific book with real insights into the challenges of this type of undertaking.
A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi - A true account of an American food writer and her adventures in Tuscany. This author has several books about her travels in Italy but in my view this is her best work. Her accounts of her travels and the food she enjoys along the way are captivating. She's also written cookbooks.
Vanilla Beans and Brodo by Isabella Dusi - Another true account, this time it's an Australian who moves to Montalcino and embraces all it has to offer. It was this book that compelled me to travel to Montalcino. It was a delight to meet folks the author introduces in the book and I treasure my hand made copper pot from the village's coppersmith.
I've previously read "The Sharper Your Knife" and "The Making of a Chef." For the most part I found them very entertaining and enjoyed reading both of them.
A friend just mailed me "52 Loaves A Half Baked Adventure" by William Alexander (he wrote "The $64 Tomato). I've been in baking mode this year so I'm looking forward to reading about his adventures.
History told through food is vastly entertaining to me.
I'm halfway through 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman.
It's pretty much what the title says---a history of immigrants on the Lower East Side of NYC, told through recipes, how food was prepared, how it was purchased, and the evolution of the pushcart.
In a similar vein, I just finished Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built by Mark Russ Federman. It's a personal account of Federman's time as owner of the LES appetizing shop, his family's history, and how the food scene in the area has changed over the past 100 or so years. As someone who shops at R&D every month or so, I found it quite fascinating.
I loved 97 Orchard - fascinating! Made me want to visit the Tenament Museum.
I also just finished Russ & Daughters - really informative and entertaining - recipes too. I've never been there, and it made me want to jump on a plane or at least eat some herring.
On the same topic, I enoyed Save the Deli by David Sax - good web site too. www.savethedeli.com
Another book that I couldn't put down: Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life. He goes from room to room in his British house and explores the history of the things found in each room, including the kitchen.
Another food-related book I have but haven't read yet is Blute Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen. It's gotten excellent reviews.
Someone you might enjoy reading, if you haven't already, is the late wonderful Laurie Colwin. Her cookbooks and fiction are both realistic and upbeat. She introduced me to broccoli rabe!
See, this is what happens when you have a librarian giving book recommendations. We tend to go on and on...
I also enjoyed "97 Orchard" and am looking forward to "Russ & Daughters".
I just finished and highly recommend
"Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing"
by Anya Von Bremzen
I got hold of an advanced copy, It is due out September 17. It is basically the last 100 years of Russian history told through one family's experiences, with a big emphasis on food.