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Thoughts on Epicurious' Top Ten BookList?

30 posts in this topic

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/b...omment-84303702

Top 10 Food Books (not Cookbooks) That Every Chef Should Own

(in random order)

1)    On Food & Cooking -- Harold McGee

2)    The Art of Eating -- MFK Fisher

3)    Kitchen Confidential -- Anthony Bourdain

4)    It Must've Been Something I Ate -- Jeffrey Steingarten

5)    Tender at the Bone -- Ruth Reichl

6)    The Tummy Trilogy -- Calvin Trillin

7)    The Omnivore's Dilemma -- Michael Pollan

8)    Down and Out in Paris and London -- George Orwell

9)    Heat -- Bill Buford

10)  The Physiology of Taste -- Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I have trouble arguing, since I own all ten. The comments have some good additions. I threw in A Meal Observed, by Todhunter. You?


"Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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Yikes... a few more books to go buy! :biggrin:

I own all except:

Tender at the Bone -- Ruth Reichl

The Tummy Trilogy -- Calvin Trillin

Down and Out in Paris and London -- George Orwell

Ordered and on their way.

J.


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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I'd have to add The Outlaw Cook by John Thorne to that list, right at the very top. And probably Ruhlmann's Soul of a Chef/Making of a Chef/Reach of a Chef. The first two more than the latter. Pollan's earlier book, The Botany of Desire would be a nice addition to this list, too, although less germane than The OD.

But seriously, go get the Outlaw Cook. It's one of the very best food books out there. It's out of print but copies can be had from Amazon and the like for around 25 bucks. all of Thorne's books are wonderful (Serious Pig, Pot on Fire and there's another I'm not thinking of right now) and quite worthwhile. The Outlaw Cook is the source of the quote below.


"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

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I'd have to add The Outlaw Cook by John Thorne to that list, right at the very top. And probably Ruhlmann's Soul of a Chef/Making of a Chef/Reach of a Chef. The first two more than the latter. Pollan's earlier book, The Botany of Desire would be a nice addition to this list, too, although less germane than The OD.

But seriously, go get the Outlaw Cook. It's one of the very best food books out there. It's out of print but copies can be had from Amazon and the like for around 25 bucks. all of Thorne's books are wonderful (Serious Pig, Pot on Fire and there's another I'm not thinking of right now) and quite worthwhile. The Outlaw Cook is the source of the quote below.

BIG co-sign on Ruhlman. I have to check out The Outlaw Cook, thanks!

I have all on the list except The Tummy Trilogy and The Physiology of Taste.

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I'd have to add The Outlaw Cook by John Thorne to that list, right at the very top. And probably Ruhlmann's Soul of a Chef/Making of a Chef/Reach of a Chef. The first two more than the latter. Pollan's earlier book, The Botany of Desire would be a nice addition to this list, too, although less germane than The OD.

But seriously, go get the Outlaw Cook. It's one of the very best food books out there. It's out of print but copies can be had from Amazon and the like for around 25 bucks. all of Thorne's books are wonderful (Serious Pig, Pot on Fire and there's another I'm not thinking of right now) and quite worthwhile. The Outlaw Cook is the source of the quote below.

BIG co-sign on Ruhlman. I have to check out The Outlaw Cook, thanks!

I have all on the list except The Tummy Trilogy and The Physiology of Taste.

I would include Kurlansky's "Salt" over Bourdain's book. I like "Kitchen Confidential," but I don't really see it's practical value in education for most chefs, except perhaps in NYC. Salt is as much of a food book as it is a history book on a single subject. In fact, it might be the best biography of something that never really lived as anything that I have ever read. I read it like a bestselling thriller. I couldn't put the thing down. Actually got completely baked by the sun while reading it on the beach in Rehoboth. I was well done and with some salt, I'm sure that I would have been perfectly cooked.

I would include Ruhlman's 3 Chef books as a single unit, and probably, at that point, exclude Heat, if only because I didn't like it much.

Other than that, it's a pretty decent list.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Some of these titles strike me as some of the best recent examples of culinary literature as produced by the most familiar/best-selling and talented living authors who write about food, with an emphasis placed on those still active in their professions.

After all, Epicurious is forged by Condé-Nast which produces magazines you're supposed to throw away after you've been informed, entertained and tempted to purchase new, fashionable consumer goods--like books.

And while it's true that food literature is a growing field, isn't there more that chefs "ought" to read by dead authors? Primary texts from long ago for the sake of historical perspective?

And what about more books that have to be translated for chefs who only read English?

P.S. I don't mean to be so grouchy. In the interest of being truly representative, though, I'd add at least one fine work of fiction in which food plays a central role.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I would include Kurlansky's "Salt" over Bourdain's book. I like "Kitchen Confidential," but I don't really see it's practical value in education for most chefs, except perhaps in NYC. Salt is as much of a food book as it is a history book on a single subject. In fact, it might be the best biography of something that never really lived as anything that I have ever read. I read it like a bestselling thriller. I couldn't put the thing down.

I agree that it was a good list and also agree re/Kitchen Confidential. I enjoyed it and even found a few parallels to my own life (I was a crazed party animal at Vassar College for two years just prior to Bourdain's arrival there or we may even have been in residence for a year at the same time - but the memories are bit indistinct).

I'd also add Kurlansky's "Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed The World". It's shorter and a bit less dry than Salt but equally compelling and enlightening. Cod.... who knew?

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At the Starchefs Congress, David Kamp recommended that all young chefs read Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice. He said that it would help give them some perspective in this immediate result oriented world.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Rudolph Chelminski's The Perfectionist about Bernard Loiseau, though relatively recent aswell, could also be a candidate.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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At the Starchefs Congress, David Kamp recommended that all young chefs read Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice. He said that it would help give them some perspective in this immediate result oriented world.

Speaking of David Kamp, The United States of Arugula would be a fun, informative read to add to that list. I've picked up The Perfectionist many times, will have to check it out again!

@ Mayhaw Man - I've seen Salt and Cod, Cod was on a display table at B&N just the other day. It made me think about one of my favorite places, A Salt & Battery in the Village. There used to be one in the East Village around the corner from my house and I was on a first name basis with those folks for a while. They shirts that said "In Cod We Trust" for sale. LOL

Isn't he also the author of Choice Cuts, which seems to be a collection of his writings similar to The Nasty Bits? Next time I'm at the bookstore I'll look at those again too.

As far as food in fiction, that's a good question! Like Water for Chocolate would be an obvious answer, though I'm drawing a blank on other titles. Suggestions?

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As far as food in fiction, that's a good question! Like Water for Chocolate would be an obvious answer, though I'm drawing a blank on other titles. Suggestions?

How about John Lanchester's A Debt to Pleasure? I wouldn't displace any books here given the context of this thread, but I think it provides an answer to your question.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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As far as food in fiction, that's a good question! Like Water for Chocolate would be an obvious answer, though I'm drawing a blank on other titles. Suggestions?

How about John Lanchester's A Debt to Pleasure? I wouldn't displace any books here given the context of this thread, but I think it provides an answer to your question.

Nice, I'll add that to my shopping list this weekend! Thanks!

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The best food fiction book I've read is The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones. The descriptions of food are astounding.

Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson is probably my most interesting cookbook I've never cooked from.

The Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Mezel. I still pull it out and read it on occasion.


Edited by KristiB50 (log)

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I've read some great reviews on The Last Chinese Chef and forgot to put that on my list!

Another one that looks promising and could be added to the one above may be The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry - it's about a woman moving to Paris to attend Le Cordon Bleu - sorta like a French The Making of a Chef. I'm definitely getting that tonight.

I have an advance copy of Beyond Nose to Tail, which should be out this month if it isn't already. I got it in June and flipped through it, saw some recipes for Roast Half Pig's Head and Chicken and Ox Tongue Pie, then put it down cause I don't really get down like that. LOL

Picking it up again I see there's a lot more other things I COULD make, like the salads, breads and desserts!

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Some of these titles strike me as some of the best recent examples of culinary literature as produced by the most familiar/best-selling and talented living authors who write about food, with an emphasis placed on those still active in their professions.

Boy, I'll say. Nevertheless, sticking with the "recently published" trend, I'll second Hungry Planet, and would argue that the first 120 pages of David Thompson's Thai Food would, if pulled out of the cookbook, rate on this list.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I also enjoyed Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table by Linda Ellerbee

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The best food fiction book I've read is The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones. The descriptions of food are astounding.

Definitely an enjoyable read, that book.

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But seriously, go get the Outlaw Cook. It's one of the very best food books out there. It's out of print but copies can be had from Amazon and the like for around 25 bucks. all of Thorne's books are wonderful (Serious Pig, Pot on Fire and there's another I'm not thinking of right now) and quite worthwhile. The Outlaw Cook is the source of the quote below.

Are you thinking of his first book, Simple Ccoking? I agree about all of his books being grand additions.

Christine

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Speaking of John Thorne, I see that he has a new book coming out next month called Mouth Wide Open! I'm on my Sidekick so I can't hyperlink, but the info should be on Amazon (I'm looking at a catalog).

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"Choice Cuts" by Kurlansky is not a collection of his works alone. It's a selection of food writing from throughout history and from around the world, from ancient Greece through the present. Might be that historical perspective some are looking for. He edited it.

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One of my favorites is and was :

" Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure "

by Joseph Wechsberg

and :

" It can't always be caviar " ( The fabulously daring adventures and exquisite cooking recipes of the involuntary secret agent Thomas Lieven )

by Johannes Mario Simmel (Author)

Read these in my early thirties.

I understand the second book mentioned is valued today at over $ 100.00


Peter

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" It can't always be caviar "  ( The fabulously daring adventures and exquisite cooking recipes of the involuntary secret agent Thomas Lieven )

by Johannes Mario Simmel (Author)

I just did a search, and it's available at the Winnipeg Public Library! But only in French... :sad:

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Some of these titles strike me as some of the best recent examples of culinary literature as produced by the most familiar/best-selling and talented living authors who write about food, with an emphasis placed on those still active in their professions. / After all, Epicurious is forged by Condé-Nast which produces magazines you're supposed to throw away after you've been informed, entertained and tempted to purchase new, fashionable consumer goods--like books. / And while it's true that food literature is a growing field, isn't there more that chefs "ought" to read by dead authors?  Primary texts from long ago for the sake of historical perspective?

Thanks, Pontormo -- I was thinking along some of those lines, then saw your posting.

No reflection on the specific books on that list, many good -- but I guess it shouldn't be surprising when commercial publications recommend mainly recent best-sellers and classics permanently in print. Individuals do too, because those books are so well known. That leaves the question of where to find recommendations of food books by authors who are not on TV and don't have cheeses or metaphors named after them. This thread has some.

Also, this thread is about books for chefs. I can think of several books fitting Pontormo's and my criteria above, but for general readers -- many of them have already appeared in earlier threads on this site. Not being a chef leaves me less clear what's appropriate for them.

...  In the interest of being truly representative, though, I'd add at least one fine work of fiction in which food plays a central role.
Does "fine" fiction exclude modern humor classics like the wicked Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, Nan and Ivan Lyons, 1976, with its unforgettable beginning and quotable lines (movie version, 1978), or the lighter Monsieur Pamplemousse by Michael Bond (1986)?

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Just finished The Tummy Trigology... it's a fabulious read. Trillin is a delightful author, a great read, and full of laughs.

He happened to be well versed in a favorite town of mine (Kansas City) and is enamored of several favorite haunts of mine - Arthur Bryant's, Gates, Strouds to name a few.

His insight in NYC "small town" spots is legendary.

If you haven't read it, you must!


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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