Of course I love to eat, and I also love to cook. But something that may surprise some people, one of my ultimate pleasures is reading about food. The genre of food literature has expanded in recent years, but it is not a new concept in any way. Although MFK Fisher and Judith Jones have been immersed in this world for more than half a century, "food books" are finally coming into mass popularity in the US. Just last week Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" and Alice Water's "The Art of Simple Food" were the number 1 and 3 spot on the SF Bay Area best seller list. While neither of these fall into what I would personally categorize as "food lit," it is exciting to see that people are interested in the subject.
Last year (or was it the year before, does this mean I am getting old when they all blend together?) I read all three of Ruth Reichl's memoirs in less than one week. Poor Ruth, it took her decades to culminate all these experiences in her lives and I tore through it all in a few afternoons. And then I discovered Laurie Colwin. Unfortunately Colwin was taken from us too soon, she died in 1992 of unexpected heart failure. Fortunately, we have her books to remember her by. I believe a friend of my mom's gave me "Home Cooking" for my birthday a few years ago and I could not put it down. That led me to read her follow up, "More Home Cooking," and wish that a) I could be friends with her, b) I cook everything in her book (a far greater possibility to say the least), and c) that I could one day write something as warm and effective as her prose.
Here are a list of my most recent favorite food lit in no particular order:
Heat- Bill Buford
The Man Who Ate Everything- Jeffrey Steingarten
A Meal Observed- Andrew Todhunter
Julia and Julia- Julie Powell
Comfort Me with Apples- Ruth Reichl
Tender to the Bone- Ruth Reichl
*note- I am not including Garlic and Sapphires- Ruth Reichl because it really isn't as good as the other two
Kitchen Confidential- Anthony Bourdain
Cooking for Mr. Latte- Amanda Hesser
My Life in France- Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme
All Laurie Colwin books