Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Books (about food and cooking)

I'm just jotting some quick notes about a few books I've read and liked that have to do with food. Not cookbooks, but book, books.

Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
I know. Who hasn't read this one? I read it when it first came out, before Anthony Bourdain was all the shizzle and stuff. I liked it then, and I still like it. He's got a tough attitude and a good sense of humor. That said, I doubt I'd get along with him if I met him. And having known a few chefs now, I can say with certainty that not all kitchens operate the way he describes. But it's definitely entertaining.

Food in History by Reay Tannahill
I read this ages ago, and have re-read it recently. It's not an easy read, but it's fascinating. I love, love, love history, and I loved this book. It goes all the way back to theory of cooking in prehistory and goes on up. She also wrote Sex in History, also great.

My Life in France by Julia Child
Again, who hasn't read this one? It's wonderful and her voice is so clear, she could almost be sitting and reading it to you. Comforting.

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany (Vintage) by Bill Buford
THIS book really gives a good picture of what working in a restaurant kitchen is like. I loved it. Bill Buford is a good writer, spins a good tale, and took a pretty amazing journey from a journalist trying to write a story to jumping whole-hog (pun intended) into the food industry. I loved this.

Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days by James Salter and Kay Salter
I love to just thumb through this and read a few passages before bed. The anecdotes and menus are just jits and jots of the act of cooking, eating and sharing table with friends and loved ones. Some of the comments are a little pretentious, and I've muttered at it a few times, but overall, it's enjoyable.

The Oxford Companion to Food 2nd Ed by Alan Davidson, Tom Jaine, Jane Davidson, and Helen Saberi
No, I haven't read the whole thing, but it sure is pretty! It's a wonderful reference, and a great book to just sit and thumb through from time to time.

The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
Everyone who loves to cook should own this book. Quote me.

The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman
Wow. Read this. Really.

The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food--Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation's Food Was Seasonal by Mark Kurlansky
This is a collection of writings submitted to the WPA before WWII. They were supposed to be compiled into a book, but the war interrupted that effort. Mark Kurlansky obtained the manuscripts from the Library of Congress and has put them together in this book. It's interesting reading for history peeps.

Anyone who has any other must-read recommendations, I'm all ears.

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