Favorite Food Books

My love for writing goes hand in hand with my love for reading. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I adore the traditional print world of books and magazines as much as the digital world. I’d like to share some of my favorite food books with you. These are great for summer reading, for discovering new recipes, for expanding your knowledge,  and best of all, for immersing yourself in stories filled with food, love, and inspiration.

Enjoy, and devour.

Alice Let’s EatCalvin Trillin chronicled his gastronomic travels across the world with his wife, Alice. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Trillin last year at Harvard, when he was a guest speaker for my Food Writing class, and I immediately liked his humorous and sarcastic voice. His writing is always superbly funny and witty, and this particular book is filled with zest and his love for his wife.

Alone in the Kitchen with an EggplantJenni Ferrari-Adler did a wonderful job of compiling short essays about cooking for one and dining alone by a diverse set of food and fiction writers. I love how it gave me a glimpse of other people’s solitary eating habits, and it made me think about my own solo eating as well. It’s true that people react differently to eating alone because it’s highly personal (I consider it my “me time”), and this anthology is a great window to the world of meals prepared, eaten, and enjoyed when no one else is looking.

Born Round – If I had to pick a favorite food writer, it will have to be Frank Bruni. I’ve always loved his reviews at The New York Times, and reading his memoir made me love him even more. I laughed out loud from the first chapter, and cried at some, and was thoroughly, highly entertained throughout the book. His story about his relationship with food, his struggles with bulimia, his life as restaurant critic, and his success at finding the right balance/the right way to enjoy food is so relatable and so, so inspiring. This book is funny, warm, sad, serious, joyful, passionate, and delicious all at the same time.

Comfort Me With Apples – This is one of Ruth Reichl‘s memoirs and it’s a poignant narrative of her beginnings as a restaurant critic, her first encounters with some of the big food luminaries, and her memorable trip to China. Her writing is sensous and moving, and I wanted to keep knowing more about her story as I read this book.

Eat Pray Love – I know this isn’t categorically a “food” book but I just had to include it in my list. Right after I read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s bestseller in 2006, I immediately put it in my “list of favorite books of all time”. I couldn’t put it down, and have been giving copies away to girl friends! The book is probably more popular than ever, with the recent release of the movie, and I hope other people will get inspired to discover themselves or even just to travel. Also, I kept thinking of the “Eat” section while I was in Italy ;)

Naturally Thin – I’ve mentioned Bethenny Frankel‘s book several times in this blog already because what she preaches really resonates with me. Like Frank Bruni, Bethenny believes in enjoying everything in moderation. Reading this book helped me realized the importance of natural, whole foods, and that my diet is like a bank account – it’s all about balance.

Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan opened my eyes to the importance of farmers market and local eating. His ethical reflections are persuasive, and up to now, when I’m about to reach for a highly-processed food product, I think, “is this something my great-great-grandmother will recognize as food?” Sometimes I get caught up in the convenience that I forget about the nourishment, and this book is a good reminder to understand what I’m really eating.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon CakeAimee Bender‘s novel reminds me of Like Water for Chocolate (another favorite) but it’s a bit more contemporary. I love the idea of tasting the emotions of whoever is preparing the food, and while some of the stories are sad, I’d like to think that in real life, we can convey our happiness and gratitude and love with cooking.

This is just a short list, but I hope you get the chance to read some (or all!) of these books too.  Do you have any favorite food books? Or just any favorite books in general? Share them with me!

Alice Let’s Eat
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
Best Food Writing 2008
Born Round
Comfort Me With Apples
Eat Pray Love
Like Water for Chocolate
Naturally Thin
Omnivore’s Dilemma
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

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