Wednesday, April 26, 2017

what I'm reading: food books

I have always loved to read. When I was younger you might have even called me a book worm. The rise of social media, however, has contributed to a decline in my worminess, it seems. Last year I finally renewed my library card and have gotten back on the literary wagon. I mostly read food-related books. mostly. Here is a round up of my most recent reads (click the covers for amazon links):

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

I'll start with a food book about food in books! Cara Nicoletti, granddaughter of a butcher and now herself a butcher (follow her on instagram @caranicoletti for amazing looking sausages), loves reading. She always has. I can Identify with this. She is also passionate about food. I can identify with this, also. She started a blog cooking food from her favorite books, called Yummy Books, and then wrote Voracious, which follows the same idea. There is so much I loved about this book; the nostalgia, the personal stories, the introduction to books I need to read, the reminders of books I've also loved, the well-thought-out recipes. It's a quick read, but satisfying. Well, maybe satisfying is the wrong word... it will leave you wanting to read all the books and try all the recipes. Yummy Books, indeed.

Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes by Maya Angelou

This is another book that is part memoir/part cookbook. Maya Angelou's accounts of her past and the food that accompanied it will give you so many feels. I found this book while browsing at the library, but I may need to own it because the recipes sound so scrumptious. The writing, of course, is wonderful... It's Maya Angelou for chrissakes! What a life she lived. If I could have a dinner party with anyone living or dead, Dr. Angelou would certainly be on the guest looks. She saw and experienced so much and loved and cooked and wrote with all her heart. 

Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr

Speaking of dream dinner parties, Luke Barr's Provence, 1970 is a curated account of December, 1970 when the greatest minds in food writing were all in Provence. Julia Child, James Beard, Richard Olney, Judith Jones and, Barr's aunt, MFK Fisher! CAN YOU IMAGINE? Well, you don't have to. Barr assembled and account of this meeting of the minds (and stomachs) based on the letters and journals of all of them, mostly Fisher's. There are parts where is gets a little more gossipy than I was comfortable with, and he is kind of repetitive about the whole "revolutionizing food in America". But overall worth a read, just to fall in love with France (again) and these writers (again) and daydream about being a fly on the wall. The food descriptions are drool-worthy and the travel details will make you want to pack a suitcase. I vowed multiple times while reading this to have dinner parties more frequently. They don't need to be in Provence nor do they need to be fancy. Just gatherings of friends and good food (and wine) and intelligent conversation. 

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
While Provence, 1970 will make you want to go to France, Down and Out in Paris and London will make you want to stay comfy cozy right where you are. This book came up in Voracious, and on an Anthony Bourdain reading list. It's about an English newspaper writer living in Paris with nothing to his name. He pawns clothes, lives in horrible conditions, works in harsh basement kitchens washing dishes 14 hours a day or following other tramps around to different camps where they get free tea and bread in exchange for listening to preachers. It's the underbelly of gay Paree. But a good, gritty look at the past and the human condition as only Orwell can illustrate.

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler

I've already written about this book in my post: Chili Roasted Acorn Squash with Kale Stem Pesto. I just wanted to recommend it, and MFK Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf, again. They will simultaneously bring you back to earth with their realness and give you hope that you can make a difference and all is not lost. Somehow. 

I have more on my list to read, but am open to suggestions. What are your favorite food-related books?