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Jan 13, 2014 08:05 AM

books about food

not cookbooks, but books about food.

i'm reading "Eat the City" by robin shulman and love it! great history book as well as present day foodies-of-NYC info. also started "Fannie's Last Supper" by Christopher Kimball of Cook's and ATK fame.

I also loved "Heat" by bill buford, "Stuffed" by Patricia Volk, and "Garlic and Sapphires" by Ruth Reichl

I've read bourdain's food books, and am reading "La Bonne Table" by Bemelmans. I've also got "Is There a Nutmeg in the House" by jill norman, waiting in the stacks. I've tried MFK fisher and gotten bored though... does anyone have more food/restaurant/hospitality recommendations?

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  1. On my to-read list is "Mastering the Art of French Eating" by Ann Mah.

    I liked "Julie and Julia," but did not enjoy Julie Powell's subsequent book about learning butchery - I just couldn't get into it. I also didn't care for "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, as some of it seemed quite preachy.

    Here are some other suggestions:

    3 Replies
    1. re: truman

      agree with the kingsolver. liked julie/julia until it became a movie! (though, totally love jane lynch..) will look into the Mah book.. and thanks SO MUCH for the goodreads thread!

      1. re: truman

        Agree on the preachy, but I happen to be in that particular choir, so I enjoyed "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle."

        1. re: truman

          I quite liked the Kingsolver book. The intensity of their effort to eat locally didn't seem preachy to me. Rather, it sent me back to the farmers' market for them to do the oogy bits. I admired, while en route to said market, their efforts to do otherwise.

          John Thorne has written a lot about American food, as has Karen Hess among other Southerners.

        2. Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LeoLioness

            THANK YOU!!!! i remembered the wonderful cover art, but not the name! now going on my list...

          2. Ruhlman's "Making of a Chef" "Soul of a Chef" "Reach of a Chef" Are all outstanding.

            Autobiographies: Jacque Pepin, Marcus Samuelson, Gayle Simmons.

            1 Reply
            1. re: WNYamateur

              I'll second this, I loved Soul of a Chef.

            2. Ruth Riechl's earlier books about her growing up are very good too.

              I am currently reading "Provence, 1970" which is about a season when the Child's, James Beard, MFK Fisher and a few other of their friends were all together in the south of France.

              Michael Pollan's "Cooked" is very interesting and thought provoking.

              Also, there is an annual collection of short articles by many different authors called "Best Food Writing of 2013" (and past years).

              3 Replies
              1. re: pamf

                I agree, Tender at the Bone and Comfort me With Apples were as good as Garlic and Sapphires.

                The Sharper the Knife the Less you Cry was a fun read too. Kathleen Flinn is the author.

                1. re: melpy

                  yes i liked the other ruth reichl books as well, but G&S was my favorite.

                  checking out the flinn book now.. thanks

                  1. re: melpy

                    She wrote a 2nd book about teaching home cooks to get out of their dependency on processed foods:


                2. If you can get hold of Bemelmans's memoir, or any of his wonderful short-story collections, I urge you to do it. The man grew up in the hospitality business, loved and adored it, excelled at it, and wrote (and lived!) stories that only such a fellow could. He's one favorite author I would love to have known, if he hadn't been fifty or sixty years older and somewhere else.

                  James Beard's memoir is a delight; his book on American food and that of Evan Jones are both good reading with some fine recipes thrown in. John Egerton's instant-classic Southern Food is a fine and friendly book; he was a man I encountered a few times, including one memorable panel at a Nashville book festival he shared with Nathalie Dupree and Bill Clinton's ex-cook who'd just published a cookbook, and I had the notion to ask why Southerners insist on sweetening sweet potatoes, which led to about twenty minutes of great fun (Nathalie didn't really understand that either).

                  Reichl has a bunch of books about her journey from the LA Times to Gourmet, and things happening before and after those, but while the food's always present there's maybe more about her other concerns and appetites than I really needed to know, but Gael Green's memoir makes Ruth come off as almost a nun. Only Jewish. Just warning you.

                  Of course the most famous is The Physiology of Taste, by Brillat-Savarin, and if you got bored with MFK Fisher you'll really snooze after a page or three. I like Fisher, maybe admire her a bit more, but even her translation of this was something I couldn't wade through … and I'm the guy who can read whole clumps of Larousse Gastronomique as though it were a novel.