Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas... Eleven Memoirs & Books on Food Writing

Now we finally get to the motherload of the gift lists- the two days dedicated solely to books! We begin with writing about food and memoirs and anthologies. Tomorrow we will be talking traditional cookbooks-- I say traditional because all of these books below include at least one recipe. These are mostly books I've read and loved, a few I'm reading, and one I use for reference. Any would make a super last minute gift to your food loving pals. With things like books, CDs and DVDs it is always a good idea to give a gift receipt with them in case they already own your gift (and remember if they do its just because great minds think alike!). Some of these pair nicely with each other or with other books by the same author or on the same subject- gift multiple books wrapped and placed in a nice tote bag. And remember: a bibliophile can never have too many books! All links are given to IndieBound, check out yesterday's post for a list of cookbook stores across the country and otherwise please try to patronize your local bookstore this holiday and throughout the year!

Beaten, Seared, and Sauced by Jonathan Dixon. Not only is my review of this book the most viewed post on The Culinary Librarian, it was also one of my favorite books from this year. Join Jonathan Dixon on his adventure attending the Culinary Institute of America. Learn as he learns and gain confidence as he does in the kitchen. Anyone who cooks will enjoy this read but it makes an excellent present for anyone considering culinary school or who is set to attend. 

Four Kitchens by Lauren Shockey. Another favorite of 2011, Lauren Shockey's journey through four restaurant kitchens is entertaining, thoughtful and mouthwatering. Give your giftee an insider's view of working the line at top restaurants in NYC, Tel Aviv, Hanoi and Paris. There are a ton of recipes in this memoir, too, all that you will want to make straight way. Perfect for your food lovers with a penchant for wanderlust. 

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kat Flinn. After loving The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry I couldn't wait to get my hands on Kathleen Flinn's new book which came out in October. Her project to help teach 9 women how to become better home cooks and fearless cooks, at that, is enlightening and uplifting. This book is also full of recipes and creative ideas for eating through the week with ease and flair. Read my full review. Great choice for new or inexperienced home cooks who wish they were more comfortable in the kitchen. 

My Life in France by Julia Child. Kathleen Flinn, like so many of us, is very inspired by Julia Child and mentions her multiple times in The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. I read My Life In France just before seeing Julie & Julia and a few months after getting back from my Paris semester. The book is all about Paris and living in France and follows Julia's path to becoming the encouraging instructor we know and love. Francophiles and Julia worshipers alike will find joy in this book. Pair it with As Always, Julia, the book of letters between Julia and her pen pal Avis DeVoto (this one is on my wish list). 

Eating for Beginners by Melanie Rehak. A favorite from 2010 that had a nice showing on the blog this year thanks to a giveaway of two paperbacks of the book- Eating for Beginners is one of those books I hope to re-read soon. Rehak's discoveries of how to balance working, feeding your child and focusing on what's best when it comes to local and organic are ones we can all relate to in this hyper-conscious age. Get this one for the new parents and local food lovers on your list.  

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This is one of the best books on food I have ever read. Kingsolver and her family take the notion of eating local completely seriously for the course of one year and show that is it not only possible but enjoyable. The book is divided by month and includes seasonal recipes at the end of each chapter. The text is rich with commentary on how to eat, what is happening in the US food system and overall what it means when we eat local. Buy this book for everyone you know! 

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. For the past few months I've been hearing about Tamar Adler's first book- a modern take on MFK Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf. For some reason she started following me on Twitter a few weeks ago and I took it as a sign that I should get her book ASAP, so I did. In the realm of today's food books, Adler's is unique and wonderfully so. It is bursting with recipes- every line is advice on how something could be prepared, how to cook through the week and for me little pats on the back to say "this food you eat and think is kind of weird is good and good for you- keep it up." She sings the praises of water, eggs, and precooking vegetables. I can't wait to read more of the book and cook more from it. Another one I recommend for everyone on your list.

The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher. You may want to give The Art of Eating when you give An Everlasting Meal because after your gift recipient starts reading Adler's book s/he will want to get into more MFK Fisher. I have two of the slim little MFK Fisher volumes they sell, but this book brings all five of them together in one place in addition to some other writings of Fisher's. Truly a must have for any food writing enthusiast. (This one is also on my wish list).

The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik. For that food lover who was an English, History, French literature or Philosophy major-- this is the book for them. This is a very intellectual look on all aspects of the meal and how we've come to employ our dining traditions, how to write and talk about food and where it all stems from-- Paris. Gopnik includes recipes in a non-tradtional format, largely via his unsent emails to the late Elizabeth Pennell. I'm head over heels for his pesto with lime juice. Definitely the book for the "intellectual foodie" as Padma Lakshmi is quoted saying on the back of the book-- pair it with some Elizabeth Pennell books (if you can find them!).

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler. I picked up this book over the summer and have been sporadically working through it. As someone who cooks for 1 and eats alone 95% of the time I find this book to be great company. It's a joy to read about how others feed themselves when no one is looking. Plenty of recipes and delicious ideas for making the most of simple meals for one here. Think of this for friends and family living in small towns attending grad school or working or for those who live alone or with rarely seen roommates. This will pair divinely with Judith Jones The Pleasures of Cooking for One, which I will tell you more about tomorrow. 

American Food Writing edited by Molly O'Neill. This library of America volume crosses all the t's and dots all the i's of American food writing. Including excerpts from the food writing greats as well as food related passages from literature and poetry, this book will lead to a hefty reading list. There are also tons of recipes here- including ones dating as far back as the 1700s. It would be kind to include a gift card to The Strand with it for the purpose of getting those additional books which will be desired.
[Wanted to note also that Molly's Cook 'n' Scribble virtual workshops were offered as a gift suggestion on day twenty of Ruth Riechl's gift guide. Another great idea. Also, note that Ruth's books aren't included here because they had their very own day on the Third Day of Christmas.]

So there you have the memoirs and prose. Pick them up last minute at your local book store. Tomorrow, our last day of Christmas will be the day I had to save for the most items... cookbooks!

1 comment:

laura k said...

You picked some of my favorites here. And reminded me of how much I loved Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. It is the book that made me fall in love with food writing. I'll have to pick up those I haven't yet read.