This post is sponsored by TryAudiobooks.com
Listen While You Cook! While spending hours in the kitchen prepping meals for the holidays, put on a good audiobook and let the story help you along. Cooking for Picasso and The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living are great cooking memoirs or you can listen to WHERE AM I NOW? Read by Mara Wilson herself! Let audiobooks be your secret ingredient this holiday season.
Visit TryAudiobooks.com/cooking for a free download and get started!
Food is, quite literally, everything: pleasurable, political, sometimes painful, surrounded by anxiety, a source of great relaxation, local, global, life, death. Great books about food take more than one aspect of food and, well, chew it over, while leaving us inspired to get in the kitchen. Here are a few of my favorites:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver— Well-known literary fiction author Barbara Kingsolver moves her family from their life in the Southwest onto a farm in rural Virginia, attempting to disconnect from the industrial food complex and learn how to grow their own food. A foundational book for the “locavore” movement (people who eat food grown locally as opposed to shipped in from wherever), come for the politics, stay for the anecdotes about turkey sex.
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser— Ever wonder how the American fast food industry became an arm of oppression of people of color, the poor, and also an arm of American colonialism in an age when colonialism should be (ha!) long over? This will show you how.
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl— Ruth Reichl is a food critic (so well known that she had to wear disguises when going out to eat for work) who, unlike many famous food people, did not have an excellent culinary childhood. Her mother’s cooking was awful (and often dangerous), and this is the story of how Ruth got from there to the tables of some of the best restaurants in the world.
Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti— Nicoletti, a butcher’s granddaughter and butcher herself, cooks meals from fifty books that have changed her life. Some are not surprising (clam chowder from Moby-Dick), but some are delightfully so (soft-boiled eggs from Emma). Part memoir and part cookbook, which is my favorite formula for a food book.
Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto–For those seeking a more academic/historical perspective, this is the global outlook you’re looking for. Fernandez-Armesto outlines the eight periods of great food-related upheaval in humanity’s history (when we learned to cook, for example, and the rise of income inequality and its effects on dining), bringing us all the way from our beginnings as a species to present day.