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Food Related Books


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Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me, by M.F.K. Fisher. So powerful, I had to put it down more than once. Excerpted from Fisher's journals and including a couple of her short stories, it mainly deals with her life with Dillwyn Parish (Tim), also refered to as Chebrex in some of her writings. Parish had a terribly painful, incurable disease -- she wrote so honestly, so heartbreakingly about it and his desire to commit suicide, a person couldn't help but cry.

Have you read MFK Fisher, A Life in Letters? It gets into that subject matter in a bit more detail. I think it's time to re-read.

And speaking of re-reading, I don't think a year goes by that i don't read the two Home Cooking books by Laurie Colwin. I discovered her too late. I was reading the books (bought both at the same time) and noticed that she mentioned several restaurants and other locations in my neighborhood. I looked her up in the phone book and lo and behold, she lived two blocks away from me. I read her obituary in the NY Times the following week.

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My recent food readings have included:

* Steingarten's two books ... they're just wonderful

* John Thorne's "Pot on the Fire" and "Serious Pig" ... loved them too

* both of Ruth Reichl's books ... good reads (I'm not sure I believe anything that is written down as being the gospel -- not even the gospel!)

* a bunch of Calvin Trillin (The Tummy Trilogy??? does that sound right?); I also read his parking book (if I weren't so lazy I could get off my butt and go into the other room to see what it was called).

* that American Pie book by the woman with the French name ... she annoyed me beyond belief in that book. Why go on a quest for pie and then put the pie in the glove box and leave it there? Arggghhhh. She drove me insane! It's only because she came to her senses and actually did the pilgrimmage thing right that I finished the book. Had she not done that, I would have slammed it down in disgust.

Books I have but have not read:

* Kitchen Confidential ... I started it but it didn't really grab me

* Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family ... it's just sitting here on my desk waiting to be read

cheers,

jen

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"The Art of Eating," by M.F.K. Fisher.  Just stunning.  Of exceptional historical interest, and some of the best writing and philosophizing about good cooking I've ever read.

Welcome to the world of M.F.K.! Don't stop here....read them ALL. Even her non-food books. I recommend "Last House" and "Among Friends." Then you'll need to read all the stuff written about her. http://www.mfkfisher.com/friends.htm I read all the non-fiction food books I can get my hands on. Tender At The Bone by Ruth Reichel is about to come out for a second read. I also enjoyed Pepin's new book. There's the Julia biography, too that I loved Appetite For Life.

Edited by Pickles (log)
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I have a lot of issues with Ruth Reichl and her two books of "memoir."  And I'm not the only one who is bothered by her journastic moral lapses of making stuff up. Her recipes are good, but take everything else she says with a rock of salt.

I am always suspect of authors who remember verbatim conversation that happened 30 years ago....but I enjoyed her first book. How does one know her writing is mostly fiction anyway? Have you insider information? I think most of us M.F.K. fans can say that her writings contain a great deal of inconsistencies and....imagination. But I don't get snippy about it. I accept it. :raz:

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I'd highly, HIGHLY recommend Laura Shapiro's "Perfection Salad," even though in description -- it's essentially a social history of the development of "home economics" in the U.S. from the mid-19th century through the 1930s or so -- it will sound like a crashing bore.

Doesn't sound like a crashing bore to me at all, I'm very interested in this topic and will be putting this title on my list.

Another book in a somewhat similar vein I really like is The Best Thing I Ever Tasted, by Sallie Tisdale. It got a lot of bad "reviews" on Amazon, but I mostly chalk that up to people just expecting a fluff memoir about things that taste good, and aren't interested in how things got so crazy today. And I'm willing to bet they took their mom's labor for granted. :wink: My partner and I both loved the book, and she is sending a copy pronto to her mom.

I'd recommend it for anyone who has or is a mom who's trying to make sense of how the lines between national wealth, pleasure, the post WWII sphere of domesticity, and the centralization and mechanization of food production affect the day to day lives of ordinary people trying to get by. She goes through stuff like the history of Betty Crocker, the creation of the flour trusts, her own attempts at trying to provide the kind of life found in glossy magazines while trying to get her kids to eat healthy food, her observations on what's hip or not and how that changes throughout her lifetime, and so on.

edited for author name typo

Pat

Edited by Sleepy_Dragon (log)

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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I thoroughly enjoyed Jacques Pepin's "The Apprentice: My Life In The Kitchen" - it's written with great humor and for great enjoyment.

Me too, I finished this book two days ago.

I also loved Letters to a Young Chef, by Daniel Boulud, which I finished about a week before The Apprentice. Letters is a condensed collection of, well, letters of advice for anyone trying to become a chef. He doesn't think it's possible for older folks just starting out, but I intend to ignore that bit while taking the rest to heart. :wink: Great book.

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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shoot!

now i have to pull out my interlibrary loan papers and start writing with all the great selections....

i've got two books stashed away for next week's vacation - Dinner Roles:American Women and Culinary Culture by Sherrie A. Inness and Jessamyn Neuhaus' Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking: Cookbooks and Gender in Modern America.

i own the Tisdale, have read steingarten, reichel(i thought her first was better than the second), have the shapiro on order...

the other day i plucked bunny day's book catch 'em, hook 'em and cook 'em from my shelves and just started reading her. i had forgotten how humourous she is.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Perhaps someone here can help me locate a book that I read quite a few years ago.

I can't recall the exact title or the name of the author. It was one of those "trade paperback" books, larger than a regular paperback, and I recall that it was from one of the small publishing houses that does short runs.

Part of the title or subtitle was "Confessions of a Food Stylist" and the author was a woman who did the compositions for the photographs of foods that go into the large "coffee-table" books.

It was very funny and I would like to read it again. I lent it to someone who did not return it and I have not come across another copy. I am sure it is out of print but without a correct title or author name my search has been unproductive.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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And speaking of re-reading, I don't think a year goes by that i don't read the two Home Cooking books by Laurie Colwin. I discovered her too late. I was reading the books (bought both at the same time) and noticed that she mentioned several restaurants and other locations in my neighborhood. I looked her up in the phone book and lo and behold, she lived two blocks away from me. I read her obituary in the NY Times the following week.

I had the same experience. I had bought her first book and the things she wrote about stuck such a note with me that I kept meaning to write to her but never got around to it. (isn't it so much easier nowadays) I used her bread recipe frequently - not only was it ease, the flavor was wonderful.

When More Home Cooking came out I bought it and was saddened to see that the copyright was to her estate.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I just finished Women Who Eat: A New Generation on the Glory of Food edited by Leslie Miller and passed it along. I had it out on my desk one day and every woman who glanced at it while walking by stopped to check it out. Juicy topic.

I am about to start Let Us Eat Cake : Adventures in Food and Friendship by Sharon Boorstin.

I am halfway through Monsoon Diary: A Memoir With Recipes by Shoba Narayan, and I'm going to put it away for a while. I'm just not finding it compelling anymore.

Untangling My Chopsticks : A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto by Victoria Abbott Riccardi-

I'm in Kyoto right now and I still can't really get into this one. Jeffrey Steingarten's Kyoto Cuisine in The Man Who Ate Everything is however something I read again and again.

On the plane ride to Japan I read most of:

Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures of Food by Carlo Petrini (Editor), et al

and

Villas at Table by James Villas.

On my nightstand at home:

Never Eat Your Heart Out by Judith Moore

Pass the Polenta: And Other Writings from the Kitchen by Theresa Lust

South Wind Through the Kitchen: The Best of Elizabeth David

The Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen

Kurlansky's Choice Cuts

I loved Patricia Volks's Stuffed and Sallie Teasdale's book. I found Perfection Salad too dry for my taste.

Any of Nigella Lawson's writing can really work up my appetite. Nigel Slater, too, though I hated his autobiography.

I have never liked Ruth Reichl's work; I find it mostly eh, and sometimes exhaustingly self-congratulatory. Also, I think that the writing itself is pretty weak.

edit to add I adore Laurie Colwin.

Edited by Verjuice (log)
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"Good Grief" by lolly winston

Ficton-really fun and a fast read

The only thing I didn't enjoy about the book is UNPUBLISHED recipies mentioned in the story. I really hate when authors do this. Makes me crazy

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I just read Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite. I think that most of her books have been Ann Rice-style gothic horror novel thingys but this novel is all about food and, most of all, the day to day life of a chef. It's kind of a mixture of Kitchen Confidential and A Confederacy of Dunces (the NOLA setting is a very major part of the book). I liked it a lot - in fact I finished it in about 3 hours. I'm kind of surprised that it hasn't been mentioned here before, but I think it may have only just come out? Well, anyway, I'd recommend it.

Edited by VeryApe77 (log)
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just got Big Russ and Me by tim russert from work. no, the whole work isn't about

food but the chapter entilted Food "you gotta eat" - actually half the quote, the other half being "so you can drink". is jam packed full of south buffalo cuisine but also the nature of the family dinner table in the late 50's-early 60's. the fact you had food on the table ( some of us grew up with depression era parents/grandparents). he mentions beef on weck, colonel sanders(not considered junk food by big russ though mcdonalds is), beer served cold, no meat on friday- i still remember the choices in the cafeteria before vatican 2 : fish sticks and fries, macaroni and cheese or cheese pizza. to this day when i visit my girlfriend who is 40+ we have salad and homemade cheese pizza for friday dinner.

he talks of his dad driving the newspaper truck into the country and coming back with fresh fruits and veg - especially the tomatoes in season. fish fries and birch beer; his mother streching the food budget and being expected to finish it all (sorry i could never do the liver and onions as many times as i tried though i did love tounge). he talks about being allowed to choose your birthday dinner - a tradition where i grew up as well - as well as at other times coming home for a hot lunch, food at the ball game(a yankee fan but he may come to his senses) and the

Broadway market - reallya farmers market.

can't wait to see what else is in store - only about a third of the way through this

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Man . . . I really wish we could combine the "book" threads.

Right now I am reading Food Politics by Marion Nestle.

Just finished up In The Devil's Garden by Stewart Lee Allen and Coming Home to Eat by Gary Nabhan. I am not sure if I spelled "Nabhan" right.

Food Politics is largely about how the American food industry influences the nutrition politics of the USDA. Scary stuff. I am starting to bore people at parties with my talk of Big Evil Food Industry.

But it dovetails nicely with the Nutrition class I am taking right now :smile:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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Trifles make Perfection. the selected works of Joseph Wechsberg. I know the title sounds precious, but it's about time that somebody put together the essays of this great food writer of yesteryear. His essays on Henri Soule and Fernand Point show how the production of haute cuisine hasn't really changed to the extent that we think it has. . .

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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The Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen

I loved Patricia Volks's Stuffed

FYI, Kate Christensen is visiting (as in "answering questions") at my other best online community, Readerville.com. She's incredibly articulate. Great stuff.

Kate Christensen Readerville Visit: May 10-14

I, too, love Patty Volk's Stuffed, and gave it for Christmas presents one year, to the delight of my sisters.

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I am presently re-reading Nicolas Freeling's "The Kitchen Book and The Cook Book." I used to enjoy his crime fiction back in the '70s and he brings the same style to this recounting of his apprentice and professional cooking days. Full of mores and characters maybe too kindly portrayed. (I assume the cooks'culture in Europe was much the same as described more graphically by Anthony Bourdain)

Also "American Gourmet" by Jane and Michael Stern (1991). A sometimes bizarre collection of cultural memories of the way we were.

And let's hear it for MFK....

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  • 4 months later...
While in Monterey over the weekend, I stumbled on A Meal Observed by Andrew Todhunter.

He claims to not be a "foodie" but he wormed his way into a stage at Taillevent and then subsequently ate a meal which is thus chronicled.

just picked this off the new book shelf at the library, and couldn't even cook dinner because i was busy zooming through it. thoroughly enjoyable little book, with glimpses into the back and front of the house of taillevent. i found this book to be full of little jewels, and really recommend it for a quick and delicious read.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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