These days, you can barely open a web browser or turn on the TV without being exposed to some type of food media. Between cronuts, kitchen nightmares, and celebrity chefs hawking their wares, you can’t be blamed for wondering what happened to actually loving food. Well, it’s still happening, right here in these books. Consider picking one up if you’ve got a big appetite for great food writing. But it’s only fair to warn you: you’ll come away with some serious food cravings.
Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites, by Kate Christensen
The PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author Kate Christensen’s much-anticipated memoir debuted this summer, following six well-received novels and a blog. Like most good food writing, this honest, literary work is about much more than eating—in this case, solitude, comfort, and a disorderly early life.
Far Flung and Well Fed, by R.W. Apple
This classic collection of more than 50 essays is a definite must-read in the food writer canon. A prolific journalist and New York Times editor, Apple had an encyclopedic knowledge of world cuisine, and his writing is packed with little-known facts about things like the history of marmalade and kosher corned beef. The details can get a bit exhaustive, but Apple also compares digging into a crab to an “Egyptologist opening a pharaoh’s tomb.” That’s some eating enthusiasm we can get behind.
My Life in France, by Julia Child
By now, any foodie worth her salt is more than a little bit familiar with the work of Julia Child. We’ve experienced her warmth and personality through movies, remembrances, and, of course, her recipes, but her memoir of diving into French culture, attending the Cordon Bleu, and her relationship with her husband, Paul, offers an unparalleled opportunity to really understand and enjoy Julia. She’s the type of person you’d love to sit down to coffee with, and this book is your best substitute.
Blood, Bones and Butter, by Gabrielle Hamilton
Chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir tracks her relationship with food from her childhood, through a detour to graduate work in creative writing, to the opening of her successful New York restaurant, Prune. She’s an incredibly evocative and unflinching writer—offering food porn that’s barely suitable for work—and gives us an inside look into the hardscrabble life of a chef that serves as the flip side to the swagger of a chef like Anthony Bourdain.
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
A collection of essays concerned with eating and cooking for one, this is a book I have picked up time and again to graze on, looking for laughs and a reminder that no one is alone in loneliness. The book features writing from well-known food greats—including M.F.K. Fisher, Amanda Hesser, and Marcella Hazan—but also includes turns from big names in the non-food world, including Ann Patchett, Jonathan Ames, and Steve Almond.
What’s your favorite food-inspired book?