Book Week: Food Lit

My Mother had A Homemade Life sitting on her coffee table when I went for a visit this week. To be honest, I had tried to read this book last year and didn't like it. This time around I enjoyed it, particularly the recipes. I like how she describes cooking various dishes--rarely with recipes--but then writes them down with actual measurements. I would like to cook more the way she does by throwing a bit of this and that into a pan. She always seemed to have a bit of really good cheese and fresh tomatoes ready to go.

I have liked food memoirs and food lit since I first discovered Laurie Colwin just after college. Her book Home Cooking was my first such book. I then went on to read all her columns in Gourmet.


Garlic and Sapphires is the very funny account of Ruth Reichl as she goes undercover in NYC as a food critic. I loved this inside look at the New York restaurant world.

In The School of Essential Ingredients a group of individuals gathers each Monday night for cooking class. The students are transformed by the dishes they create each week as is Lillian the teacher and master chef.


In Bread Alone, Wyn, estranged from her husband, builds a new life in a bakery where she builds on the skills she had gained while apprenticed to a bread baker in France. Breadmaking tips are sprinkled throughout.

Five Quarters of the Orange, by the same author as Chocolat, takes place during and after occupied France and is a scrapbook of recipes and memories. It is a slow, delicious read.


Heat brought me right into a New York restaurant kitchen. The author signs on as an unpaid servant to one of New York's big chefs in an effort to understand more about the restaurant business. I liked the behind the scenes aspect of this book and also enjoyed this...um....swashbuckling male author. He is very funny.


Probably my all-time favorite foodie book is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle . I think I can safely say that Barbara Kingsolver changed our family's ways. (I'm also a devotee of Michael Pollan. His bit of advice not to eat anything your grandmother couldn't have made is fab.)


The Cookbook Collector now awaits me. Can't wait!

That was a fun journey down memory lane. I hadn't realized how much food lit I had actually read. It makes me want to scour the farmer's market tomorrow for some really yummy cheese, a baguette or two, and some fresh garlic!

My thanks to all of you who commented yesterday on read aloud books. I have had fun going through Amazon and looking at your recommendations. Have I missed any really great food lit?

Lexi @ Pink and Orange Coffee  – (July 30, 2010 at 10:31 AM)  

THANK YOU for this list! I am always in need of some good books!

Tammy  – (July 30, 2010 at 11:51 AM)  

Woohoo! My library has ALL, may I repeat ALL of these books! I just put them all on request, lol.

The girls and I watched all of the Julia Child dvds this last year and my hubby bought me both volumes of Mastering the Art of French Cooking which are fun books to flip through, look at, and cook from. :)

Nan  – (July 31, 2010 at 8:59 AM)  

Thank you for all the great titles! I so love Laurie Colwin, and since reading her two food books, I've gone on to enjoy her fiction. She has such a kind, really nice view of life. Most refreshing. I'm looking forward to the Allegra Goodman book. Her Kaaterskill Falls is one of my favorite books. I will look into the others, too. Thanks again.

Donna  – (August 1, 2010 at 4:04 PM)  

You might like Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence" - great descriptions of a couple who moves to Provence, France. A laugh-out-loud kind of book. I happen to be reading "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" right now.

Sarah  – (August 2, 2010 at 8:56 AM)  

Thanks Donna! I haven't read "A Year in Provence" but maybe it's time. Nice to hear from you!

Susan  – (August 17, 2010 at 8:39 AM)  

What a great list! Lots of good ideas for a late summer read here. I think I might start with Five Quarters of the Orange...I could use a "delicious" read. Thanks!

Aliadelaide  – (August 23, 2010 at 12:43 AM)  

Thanks for the fabulous list; I am off to the library to check some out!

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