Saturday, April 10, 2010

Books For Foodies

April 2010 216

Earlier this week, I participated in a panel discussion at the Princeton Public Library with a couple of other food bloggers - Sue Gordon and Phyllis Knight and Pat Tanner who writes about food and restaurants for the The Princeton Packet, New Jersey Life and U.S. 1.

We talked about the local restaurant scene - everything from special occasion to ethnic eateries, as well as our favorite food blogs and places to shop for ingredients.

We also talked about foodie movies and books – not cookbooks, (although some of these books do sprinkle in recipes here and there), but books where food plays a significant role in the narrative. Here is my list of favorite foodie books. What about you? I’m sure there are dozens more that I haven’t read that you can recommend. Leave a comment and let us all know.

 Books for Foodies:

  • A Homemade Life – by Molly Wizenberg - A tender account of a young woman’s coming of age in Paris and the U.S., falling in love, losing her father, and how food memories shaped her as an adult.
  • The Sweet Life in Paris– a hilarious account of life in Paris by expat David Lebovitz, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse.
  • Tender at the Bone, Garlic and Sapphires, and Comfort me with Apples, – beautifully written books by former Gourmet editor and NYTimes food critic Ruth Reichl
  • My Life in France – a page-turner by Julia Child on her love affair with France and French food and her husband
  • Julie and Julia – Julie Powell’s account of trudging through every recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and its effect on her marriage.
  • Cod by Michael Kurlansky – An unlikely topic for an entire book, but it is an interesting account of the history of cod fishing and how it sustained populations around the world.
  • A Thousand Days in Venice – Marlena DeBlasi’s real life story of meeting a Venetian man, his pursuit of her in the U.S., and her giving up her catering business and life in the U.S. several months later to move with him to Venice.
  • Heat by Bill Buford – New Yorker writer tells all about cooking in Mario Batali’s kitchen and travels to Italy to further his culinary education. The chapter about buying and slaughtering a pig in his New York City kitchen is worth the price of the book alone.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver – A really good read and valuable lessons by a very thoughtful writer who details how her family either grew or purchased only locally-grown food for a year.
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan traces four meals back to their origins, including a lunch at McDonalds. It may convert you to vegetarianism and have you giving up corn.
  • Stalking the Wild Asparagus – Written by Euell Gibbons decades ago and describes the different kinds of food available for free just by foraging.
  • Amarcord – Italian cooking doyen Marcella Hazan’s tale of growing up in Italy, finding the love of her life and becoming a cooking teacher and cookbook author.
  • The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken – Laura Schenone – A quest for a recipe and family through the Ligurian region of Italy. It will have you rushing to Italy (or at least to the kitchen to make ravioli).
  • Crazy In The Kitchen –Foods, Feuds and Forgiveness in an Italian-American family - A raw and honest memoir that reveals how food, or the absence of home cooking, influenced several generations of her family.
  • Eat, Memory – Great Writers at the Table  - A collection of essays from the New York Times about food
  • Food and Feasting In Art – A glorious art book featuring paintings of food that I bought at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it’s published by the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles
  • Best Food Writing of 2009 – Edited by Holly Hughes – An annual compilation that always features really good food writing you may have read in other magazines, newspapers or blogs.

On my to-read list: “Why Italians Love to Talk About Food” by Elena Koustioukavich; “Slow-Food Nation” by Carlo Petrini.



  1. Another one I thought was good is The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. Hope you check it out and it makes it onto your list. I've read several that you mentioned, but I'm always happy to find new books to add to my "to read" list. Thanks!

  2. I love the Lost Recipes of Hoboken and The Sweet Life. I have made a few of the recipes out of the Sweet Life and they are all terrific!
    Sorry I missed the event the other night.....sounds like it was fun.

  3. I read a great book many years ago about a person that moved to provence and started and lived off a garden - it was a great book but I can not for the life of me remember the name - it was NOT "my year in provence" nor was it "An English Garden in Provence" it was written in the mid to late 80's I am guessing.

  4. Hi Linda,
    Great list! Thanks for all the recommendations, looking forward to reading all of these, especially Ruth Reichl's memoirs and the Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken (used to live there). I also enjoy the Best Food Writing annual compilations. My favorite reads are Jeffrey Steingarten's 'The Man who Ate Everything' and 'It Must've Been Something I Ate' and I just finished reading 'Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin' (fascinating)

  5. I noticed a great one is missing: Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. It is a great collection of short stories about cooking for one and the essays are so well done! Recipes are included, btw!

  6. Ouch! Hit me in the purse strings! I shall add to my book list those I have not read. I return to Calvin Trillin's essays Feeding a Yen - again and again. That must have been a grand evening at the library.

  7. I agree about The School of Essential Ingredients. I loved the individual characters in it. I also love The Lost Ravioli Recipes Of Hoboken.

  8. Linda,
    That panel was such fun. You did a great job.

    Wow, what a list! Food Studies Librarian should be on your resume. I'm going to keep this post handy.

  9. You guys did such a great, I enjoyed listening to all of you!

  10. With my birthday coming up I have a list of books I would like as presents. It looks as though I have some additions.

  11. You know what? it was A year in Provence, by Peter Mayle that I read back in 1989 and was so smitten with the story - it was this article that totally recalled my memory -

  12. Thanks for the wonderful list- I've read about half of those and loved each one! There's something so wonderful about food and writing :) which is probably why we have blogs!!

  13. ablesthiWhat a wonderful list of books, with quite a few I haven't read as yet. I loved "The Lost Raviolis of Hoboken," and I read two of Ruth Reich's books and throughly enjoyed them, and of course "Julie and Julia" and "My Life in France" were devoured in a few sittings. Now I can visit my library with your list and see if I can find some more good foodie reads! Thanks Linda!

  14. I liked "The Founding Fish" by John McPhee, about the noble shad, and "CandyFreak" by Steve Almond, who tours the country in search of regional candy bars.

  15. I just recently got The lost Ravioli from a friend and have yet to read it, you reminded me that I should! I bet you had a captive audience at the library Linda, sounds like fun!

  16. Wonderful list of books Linda!
    I wish I could have gotten down to Princeton the other just gets in the way sometimes!

  17. Wonderful post!! We have a huge cookbook collection, love reading them, and there were a few that I hadn't heard of in this post. Now I will be searching for a few copies. The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken for sure.

  18. These are some good ones. I've been trying to track down the Lost Ravioli of Hoboken forever. I heard it's pretty good.

    I have the Why Italians Talk about Food book. I'd be happy to send it to you. email me if you're interested.

  19. I have read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and loved it, and of course the Julie and Julia book...these are such great book ideas to take to the library so I can get more food info--thanks so much for sharing!

  20. Stalking the Wild Asparagus is right down my ally! I went today but it's a bit early.

  21. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for this list. I loved Julie & Julie and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle but there are bunch more on here I have yet to read. I wanted to add Victoria Allman's new book to your list - it's called "SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey With Her Captain". It has some great recipes sprinkled throughout and is a wonderful read. Thanks!