Riot Recommendation: Food Writing

On the short list of Things I Love As Much as I Love Books, food takes one of the top spots. I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to eat with the people I love and talk about what we’re eating, then go home and talk about what we ate and what we’re going to eat next. The kitchen has been the center of every one of my homes. I love food.

It would seem obvious, then, to combine my love of books with my love of food…and it is. But it took me nearly 30 years to realize it. Sometimes I’m slow at these things.

On a totally-planned-around-food trip to Charleston, SC back in January (boy, do they know from hush puppies!), a copy of Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone called to me from the shelves of a cozy used bookstore. I couldn’t resist, and I’m so happy that I didn’t try to. Virtually every moment that I didn’t spend eating, sleeping, or walking from A Place Where You Eat to The Place Where You Sleep, I spent curled up with this book. Reichl made me understand, in a way I had never considered before (see above re: sometimes I’m slow at things), that while I use books to make sense of the world–they are the lens through which I view and interpret life–other people use food. (And, I’m sure, others still use music, or dance, or painting, or underwater basket weaving.) Food as something more than nourishment, entertainment, a reason to gather with loved ones. Amazing!

Something clicked with that reading, and in the months since, I’ve read Reichl’s second memoir, Comfort Me with Apples, Anthony Bourdain’s first, Kitchen Confidential, and a handful of food memoir-ish magazine articles. And I’m…wait for it…hungry for more.

So, what should I add to my foodie TBR list? What are your favorite food memoirs, essay collections, and contemplations of the eating life?