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What food-related books are you reading? (2004 - 2015)


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I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver and family, one of the books in the locavore genre that is popular right now. This book is way too preachy for my taste. Had it been a library book I probably wouldn’t have got much further than page 10, but since it is a book club book I persevered and have found some good stories amongst the preaching.

On the list is Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 by David Kynaston. Short description from Amazon:

Austerity Britain takes the reader on an utterly absorbing journey from 1945 to the general election of 1951, which returned Churchill and the Conservatives to power after six years of a Labour government that transformed the country. Through excerpts from diaries, letters, articles, and through his own analysis David Kynaston shows the lives of ordinary citizens as well as ministers, consumers as well as producers, the country and the city, the regions as well as London, the everyday as well as the seismic, and Lords as well as Wembley, as everyone lived through six extremely hard years of unremitting postwar austerity while the building blocks of a new Britain were put in place. 

and A Late Dinner: Discovering the Food of Spain by Paul Richardson.

Cheers,

Anne

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Candyfreak by Steve Almond (subtitled "A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America"). Part history, part reminiscence, and lots of chocolate. This could have been a rather ordinary tribute to candy, but the author is such a good writer, it's one of those books I want to read over and over. For instance, this is his description of watching marshmallow bunnies being enrobed in chocolate:
They rode the conveyor belt three astride, looking nonchalant in profile, as curtains of milk chocolate washed down onto their white fleshy pelts and enveloped them and seeped off to reveal the dimensions of their bodies in a lustrous brown. Saborin [his guide] was saying something or other, involving, I think, starch. I was watching the bunnies.

I enjoyed this enormously. I am British, and the chocolate bars he writes about are mostly beyond my ken. This didn't detract from the fun of reading it at all - it probably enhanced it since I never had any cause to question the author's judgements on what makes a good bar of chocolate. Just took him at his word and ate the whole book up.

Catherine

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  • 1 month later...

...and I just finished it last night. Wow, it took me a while to read it, but what an interesting book. I was re-reading Fast Food Nation at the same time; a lot of the same points were made but in very different ways. Pollan is such a good writer; now I want to read The Botany of Desire.

So now that I'm done with OD, I needed to find something else from my stack to read. I picked up a book about the writings of Escoffier and the Pat Conroy cookbook. Someone here had mentioned it so when I saw a copy I set it aside. When I had the two books next to each other I thought it seemed an odd pair, wondering what Escoffier and Conroy could possibly have in common. Then I started reading the Conroy book and his first story was about how he learned to cook from Escoffier! Found that amusing.

Even more amusing, laugh-out-loud funny, in fact, was one of the first stories in the book involving Nathalie Dupree, snails, and a bucket full of testicles. I think I'm going to like this book!

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I'm new...have come on over for a lookie from the Pennsylvania group and decided to stay a while! Love this thread. I have recently been on a tear: all three Ruhlman "of a chef" books, Pepin's "Apprentice" (about halfway through so far), Kurlansky's "Cod" and, for practical tips, Linda Carucci's "Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks."

Plus, I've made a list of about twenty titles from this thread to check out!

I'd already read Reichl, Steingarten, Bourdain, etc., but might purchase because I always want to re-read those. I already have volumes by Elizabeth David and Bemelmans around here somewhere to re-read!

I also recommend a dark horse, "The Frog Commissary Cookbook" by Steven Poses, et al. Those who came of age in Philly in the 70s and early 80s will recognize the name. It's a wonderful cookbook with great recipes, cute illustrations, and reminiscences of starting and running an experimental urban restaurant during that era (now it's just catering--my local used book store's proprietor just had them cater her daughter's wedding and mentioned it because I bought a newish copy that's in much better shape than mine, which is shredded and over 20 years old).

Hi to all!

Susu

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Hi Siouxsie! This is my favorite section. LOL

I came in here to rave about The World in a City by Joseph Berger! He's a NYT reporter who traveled the many neighborhoods of NYC and has written a fascinating book about how they are changing, the many ethnic groups and places to visit and eat while you are in certain ones.

It's SUCH a great book, I had to log on and share.

In the past few weeks I've picked up Everybody Eats There: The World of Celebrity Restaurants, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, The Amateur Gourmet, and A Late Dinner (the food of Spain). Tomorrow I must get No Reservations!

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I'm in the middle of The Food Snob's Dictionnary, by Donald Kamp and Marion Rosenfeld. If you can ignore the digs at the snobs (us!), which I guess are tongue-in-cheek but start to grate after a while, the book is pretty darned informative and entertaining.

Also, I just started reading Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink. Actually, first I flipped through to look at all the cartoons. This is going to be a fun book -- almost makes up for the fact that I never did find the latest food issue of the New Yorker.

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I'm in the middle of The Food Snob's Dictionnary, by Donald Kamp and Marion Rosenfeld.  If you can ignore the digs at the snobs (us!), which I guess are tongue-in-cheek but start to grate after a while, the book is pretty darned informative and entertaining. 

Also, I just started reading Secret Ingredients:  The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink.  Actually, first I flipped through to look at all the cartoons.  This is going to be a fun book -- almost makes up for the fact that I never did find the latest food issue of the New Yorker.

Wow, I was about to start a thread about Secret Ingredients!! It does look like a fun book, I think I have to buy that next...like tomorrow. My immaturity got the best of me at the store today and I got Borat's new book instead. :laugh:

Secret Ingredients should definitely make up for the lack of your New Yorker food issue and then some! The Food Snob's Dictionary is funny, he's a great writer. The United States of Arugula is a new favorite of mine as well.

And I love your screen name. LOL

ETA: Here is the link to The World in a City that I was raving about last night!

Edited by The Naughti Literati (log)
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I just read A Cook's Tour yesterday, only the 2nd book I've read about food. I review it on my blog which is at

www.seemrealland.blogspot.com

The first food book I read (last week) was called Last Chance to Eat and I enjoyed it much more than Bourdain. This list is giving me good ideas for other books to look for. Also a few minutes ago, ordered Turning the Tables by Egullet Member #1. Will it help me get a reservation at The French Laundry? Will find out. :smile:

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i just got The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones from work - as well as a risotto book...just because.

i've read two different excerpts and enjoyed them immensely. i'm thinking that she may be as gifted a writer as she is an editor.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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I just read A Cook's Tour yesterday, only the 2nd book I've read about food. I review it on my blog which is at

www.seemrealland.blogspot.com

The first food book I read (last week) was called Last Chance to Eat and I enjoyed it much more than Bourdain. This list is giving me good ideas for other books to look for. Also a few minutes ago, ordered Turning the Tables by Egullet Member #1. Will it help me get a reservation at The French Laundry? Will find out. :smile:

A couple great must-reads you may wish to consider as well: The Reach Of a Chef, and The Soul Of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman (read the Soul of a Chef first), and Heat by Bill Buford.

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A couple great must-reads you may wish to consider as well: The Reach Of a Chef, and The Soul Of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman (read the Soul of a Chef first), and Heat by Bill Buford.

Making of a Chef http://www.amazon.com/Making-Chef-Masterin...nary-Institute/ is his first in the trilogy, and the best I think. Soul I found weaker than Reach.

Heat is awesome. Billbuford rocks my world. The latest New Yorker article on Chocolate is like Fear and Loathing in Brazil...

"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

MetaFooder: linking you to food | @foodtwit

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I never could find a copy of that New Yorker. 

Choke by Anthony Lane http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09...?printable=true

Tasteless by David Sedaris

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09...?printable=true

Real Food by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09...?printable=true

Sixty-nine Cents by Gary Shteyngart

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09...?printable=true

Rationed by Aleksandar Hemon

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09...?printable=true

Lunch by Cristina Henriquez

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09...?printable=true

A Man in the Kitchen by Donald Antrim

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09...?printable=true

Hope this helps...

"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

MetaFooder: linking you to food | @foodtwit

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Tupac: shamefully I'll admit, but I hadn't even heard of The Last Chinese Chef until your mention. But upon your recommendation, and a quick glance on Amazon.com, I will pick it up tomorrow. Is it truly as good as the briefs make it sound? I'm totally looking forward to snuggling up with that one. Thanks!

I'd also like to recommend: The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine, By Rudolph Chelminski. Great non-fiction.

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Tupac: shamefully I'll admit, but I hadn't even heard of The Last Chinese Chef until your mention.  But upon your recommendation, and a quick glance on Amazon.com, I will pick it up tomorrow.  Is it truly as good as the briefs make it sound?  I'm totally looking forward to snuggling up with that one.  Thanks!

I'd also like to recommend: The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine, By Rudolph Chelminski.  Great non-fiction.

Bueno, it's definitely a good read. I flew through it. I hadn't heard of it myself until I just stumbled upon it in the hotel I stayed in the night before I left for a 9-week trip to Italy this summer, so I took it with me. That being the case, much of it was read with a cone of gelato or a glass of wine in one hand and the book in the other. So perhaps my opinions of it must be taken with a grain of salt. :biggrin: Seriously, though, enjoy!

P.S. She liked it too

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Elements of Cooking I feel hoplessly inept, even as an amatuer home cook because I realize how much I do not know.

I'm reading Elements of Cooking, and so far I'm a bit ambivalent (and startled at how much I do know, since I have never worked professionally in a kitchen. But then, I've read all of Ruhlman's books and I guess I might know much of what he does.)

I find it neither complete enough nor precise enough (those two are typically opposites). The essay of eggs is a good example; it feels to me a bit like an incomplete as if done top-of-head and not edited by someone who understands cooking: hard boiled is covered but not soft, scrambled eggs is oddly didactic with little reflection of variables in taste of the cook or diner. Coddles is confusing, shirred doesn't reference eggs cocette or meuriere. The essay on sauces doesn't cover the mother sauces, but does continue the veal stock praise from the preceding essay.

Ruhlman says it was based on Elements of Style, a book I know almost by heart, and I wish he'd hewn more closely to it. The reference section is useful, but not particularly more useful than say, Larousse, McGee or the web. And I wish he'd written an equivalent to White's Essay on style, since he knows so much about chef's styles from molecular gastronomy to classic French.

But I'm not completely done with it yet. It's not really a sit-down-and-read through, despite what some have said.

Edited by et alors (log)

"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

MetaFooder: linking you to food | @foodtwit

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By the owner and chef at the Colorado Kitchen in D.C., Out of the Frying Pan, Gillian Clark. I loved this book for so many reasons. A single mom trying raise two little girls by herself has the guts and skill to open her own restaurant. Ms. Clark is honest about the challenges any parent deals with raising children. It's not easy and sometimes you feel over your head. I loved how the author used making and eating food almost a therapy to help herself and her girls get though the hardest times.

Melissa

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I just finished Kathleeen Quinn's The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry, about a woman who gets laid off from Microsoft, cashes in her savings and enrolls at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. It was enjoyable and interesting to read about the day to day life of studying there.

And since we're going to Dordogne next spring, I read Michael Sanders' From Here You Can't See Paris. This is from 2002 but I just heard of it on the Slow Travel website, and it was a great look at the struggles of a restaurant in a small, almost deserted French village (Les Arques) in that part of France.

I'm now in the middle of Molly O'Neil's (ed) anthology, American Food Writing. I love the essays from the 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly because I wasn't that familiar with eating habits of time.

On a less successful note, I recently abandoned Noel Riley Fitch's bio of Julia Child, Appetite for Life. That was probably the most poorly written book I've ever read. It was only that Julia's life was so interesting that I even stuck it out as long as did (until the Paris years-I read My Life in France already). Where was the editor before that book was published? Yikes.

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THE LAST DAYS OF HAUTE CUISINE, by Patrick Kuh.

I really enjoyed this book. It was very educational, and it has helped me to understand the evolution and genealogy of the restaurant scene here in New York City. I'll be curious to know how you like it.

I just received My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals, a brand-new coffee-table book edited by Melanie Dunea. It's lots of fun and has some great photographs.

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I just stumbled upon a copy of "A Return to Cooking" in a local bookstore - I'd looked at a copy before and loved it. It isn't just a beautiful book, it's practical - I've made a few things in just the last couple of days.

Also, Russ Parsons' "How to Pick a Peach" - we had the broccoli salad for dinner (with toasted hazelnuts instead of walnuts and Great Hill Blue instead of Gorgonzola) - very nice supper, and it will be great to bring for lunch at work. A wonderful book.

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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