Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Books That Brought Me Here



Sometimes I like to read about food as much as I like cooking or eating food.  Over the last decade or two we have been blessed with a lot of great foodie reads.  I thought I would share the ones that inspired me.  They have inspired me to eat more thoughtfully, share more openly and are a huge reason I write today and am working on a book.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver – Kingsolver is a great writer.  In this one she spends a year on her family farm doing her best to only use food grown within 100 miles of her home…and it isn’t easy.
Cooked: My Journey from the Streets to the Stove by Jeff Henderson – An inspiring story of how Henderson went from drug dealer to executive chef.  A great example of following your passions and your skills.
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the American Meal by Eric Schlosser – When it came out it really had impact, and I still see it as a great place to start for a new food-conscious reader.  If you eat fast food you really should read this for the same reason you look at Consumer Reports to buy an appliance.  
A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain – Bourdain’s effort to find the perfect meal.  And it isn’t just about the food.  It’s the atmosphere, the company and the flavors.
Acquired Tastes by Peter Mayle – a collection of short essays about the finer things in life, including escargot and caviar.  A deliciously fun, decadent read.
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl – the hilarious and absurd of being a famous restaurant critic.
The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean and The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice by Trevor Corson – Corson’s books are informative and entertaining and will tell you more about lobsters and sushi than you can imagine.
The Devil’s Picnic: Travels through the Underworld of Food and Drink by Taras Grescoe – Why are some cheeses and cured meats illegal in the US?  What’s up with absinthe?  What are coca leaves?  Learn the answers to this and more.  It is a captivating and thought-provoking read that will either make you book tickets to travel or call your congressional representative.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan – Perhaps the ultimate book for foodies.  Well-organized, wonderfully written and so very important.
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes – I know it isn’t a traditional foodie book, but the way Mayes uses food to establish herself and her relationships in a new community is so much fun.
Man with a Pan edited by John Donohue – a collection of essays by fathers about how they feed their families and what it is like to be a father who cares about food.
Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford – This book told me taught me that the restaurant business is insane and that the best restaurants with the best chefs have some unbelievable demands.  Get to know Mario Batali much better and find yourself inspired to book a ticket to rural Tuscany to visit the greatest, craziest butcher on earth, Dario Cecchini.  I did.
There are easily another two dozen I have enjoyed and would recommend, pending your interests, but these are specifically the books that have me where I am.

What books have inspired your appetite?

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