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Friday, August 12, 2011

Foodie World

Roasted deliciousness courtesy of the organic farm this week.

If you're not eating, cooking or food shopping, (or dreaming about food, which, I have to admit, happens to me on a regular basis), you can always read about food.  Besides cookbooks, there is a whole world out there of great foodie books.

Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly comes to mind first.  Irreverent, witty, utterly captivating as well as vicariously thrilling and (to me) a little scary, that sums up Bordain's life and books. 

I also enjoyed his A Cook's Tour, about travelling around the world looking for the 'perfect meal'; The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps and Bones, ostensibly about using what's known as offal, but really just more of Bourdain's trenchant and funny experiences with cooking and eating, and Medium Raw:  A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food, which is billed as a sequel to Kitchen Confidential.   

Medium Raw is flawed by a section which veers off into a rant about food chefs and misbegotten celebrity that, to me, seemed a little too insider-y and bad-humored, but on the whole, I still can't resist Bourdain's 'voice', and I'll read anything he writes - (just haven't read his novels, but I prefer non-fiction anyway).

Another food writer with brains and lots of food cred is Ruth Reichl, formerly New York Times restaurant critic and editor-in-chief of (now defunct) Gourmet magazine.  Her first memoir, Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table had me laughing out loud recounting the terrible and actually dangerous meals her mom served - think food poisoning - and how she grew to appreciate great food from her boarding school days in Montreal to cooking in a commune in Berkeley, California. 

I also loved her next two best selling books - Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, her life in food and relationships, and Garlic and Sapphires: the Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, about her work reviewing restaurants for the NY Times (intense envy from me).  Funny, literate, adventurous and down-to-earth - I would love to share a dinner table with either of these authors...but I guess I'll just have to settle for their books instead.

Other food books I've enjoyed in no particular order:

Blood, Bones and Butter, by Gabrielle Hamilton - new book by the chef/owner of Prune in NYC.  Even if you're not a foodie, this book is so well written and evocative that fans of literate memoirs will enjoy this. (Ruefully hilarious:  the section recounting her dread as an adult in visiting her mom whom she hasn't seen in years.)

Heat, by Bill Buford - food obsessed, and working in a restaurant kitchen,  then traveling to Italy to apprentice to a master butcher (more interesting than it sounds - I read this twice, and I never read a book twice).

Knives at Dawn:  America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition, by Andrew Friedman - chef Timothy Collingsworth from the French Laundry competes in France in 2009 with support from Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Jerome Bocuse:  overly detailed - yes, but this mirrors the minutiae and effort that goes into competing at this level.

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, by David Kamp - history of food trends and how they happen.

The Saucier's Apprentice: One Long Trip through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe, by Bob Spitz - mid-life crisis personal journey through cooking schools at age 50.

How to Pick a Peach: the Search for Flavor From Farm to Table,  by Russ Parsons - how to select produce and some recipes to go with them.

Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell - the movie was fun, but so is the book. (Meryl Streep became Julia Child.)

or straight from the horse's mouth:

My Life in France, by Julia Child

And many more...including -

A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg - when I started reading this book, I couldn't finish it, because it was so engaging and conversational that it made me mad that I hadn't written it myself.  Someday I'll read the rest of it! 

Leave me a comment if you have read any of these or any other foodie books that you've loved...


Sarah Elsewhere said...

I love food books too! It looks like you have one of my favorites to browse, "What I eat : around the world in 80 diets"

South Brunswick Public Library Blog said...

Thanks for reading my blog and leaving a comment - and from so far away - cool!

I looked at the "What I Eat" book - some interesting profiles there...