Lately, I’ve become sort of enamored with books about food. The boy makes fun of me a bit, saying that never before has he seen someone’s mood change so drastically at the mention of something especially good to eat. I fight back, but really, he is right. I think (hope) I’ve become less rigid about meals, but I truly enjoy when food becomes a moment in and of itself. This morning for example, I didn’t eat any old bowl of cereal, but had two big, hearty rounds of shredded wheat, crispy at first bite and then quickly turned soft thanks to the cold milk, studded with even colder bananas – sliced just thickly enough to make the texture and taste pronounced (and then a third to finish the milk dregs, officially stuffing myself). So fine, maybe he’s right.
I’ve also always loved reading, and lately I’ve realized how much I love reading about food. Here are a few of the books that have recently graced my nightstand:
I really enjoyed Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. It seems as though many chefs get their passion for food from childhood experiences, and Gabrielle is no exception. Her journey is rough at times, but overwhelmingly the presence of good food — inspired by travels around the world, the massive parties of her youth, and her very Italian mother-in-law — is an important element of her life. I’d love to sit at her restaurant, Prune, for a day and soak it all in.
The Gastronomy of Marriage by Michelle Maisto is the book I just finished, and I think it might be my favorite so far. Michelle tells the story of getting engaged and moving in with her fiance, combining their Italian and Chinese upbringings in the kitchen. The book is peppered with family, menus and most often, dinner plans. In the beginning of the book, they dedicate a Sunday to rice cakes, based on a craving. They get on the subway and go to Chinatown, stopping at six different shops to stock up on frozen dumplings, the rice cakes, a special treat of tofu with sugar syrup, vegetables, an array of seafood, pork ribs, and egg custards. By the time they get home, both are tired so they take naps, and when they wake up it’s time for dinner, and they make a delicious meal with some of the treats they bought that day. Sure, this scenario is not everyone’s idea of a good time, and even I think I’d be a bit exhausted by the whole thing, but for anyone who has gone to a specialty grocery store and browsed away hours, this story made me smile.
I’m only a few pages into Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, but so far I like it!
Finally, I recently read Cleaving, the latest memoir from Julia & Julia author Julie Powell. Honestly? I really didn’t like this book. I’m normally the critic with nothing critical to say (even recognized “bad” movies get the okay from me), but she seems very selfish and I couldn’t relate to her at all. I read an interview where she said fans would surely condemn her, but maybe some would empathize with her experiences. I guess that person just isn’t me. Also, for someone who doesn’t eat meat very often and rarely cooks it, the premis of her book – a butchering apprenticeship – was a bit graphic for me.
So, there you have it! Any other musts for my food lit list?