Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Fascination with Food

It all started with Julie and Julia. Julie Powell set herself a goal of cooking all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. Her stories were amusing, interesting, and involving. Her description of the trauma of cooking a lobster was so hilarious I almost fell off the couch. Next up I read James Haller’s Vie de France: sharing food, friendship, and a kitchen in the Loire Valley. Haller was the critically acclaimed chef at the Blue Strawbery. Since I was fortunate enough to eat there, and have an interest in books about Americans living in France, this book was doubly fascinating to me. Haller and several of his friends rented a house in France for a month during the summer. Though he had sworn off cooking during his vacation, Haller was so inspired by the wonderful ingredients available in the local markets he could not help but make one gourmet meal after the other. I envy his friends. The next food book I devoured (sorry, terrible pun) was Service Included: four star secrets of an eavesdropping waiter by Phoebe Damrosch. This book was not so much about cooking; instead, it focuses on the intricate details of running a top New York City restaurant. It’s like Kitchen Confidential from a waiter’s perspective. I recommend listening to Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. You get the benefit of his sarcastic delivery as he tells you war stories from the restaurant business, as well as useful tips. Did you know Hollandaise sauce is like a petri dish for bacteria, untouched bread is often recycled to the next table, and you should never order fish on Monday? Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl is an entertaining look at the restaurant business from the viewpoint of a critic. Reichl wanted to experience a restaurant as a normal diner would, and not be given kid glove treatment as a critic, so she developed many disguises over the years to fool New York restaurants. She dined as Chloe the blonde divorcee and Brenda the red haired hippie. Donning these disguises taught her things about herself, as well as the restaurants she was reviewing. Next I read The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn, which I will review at length in a later post; stay tuned! The short version is an American loses her job and decides to fulfill her life dream of attending the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. I did tell you I like books about Americans in France. The foodie book I just finished was Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte: a food lover’s courtship, with recipes. This is almost chick lit for the gourmet set. Every now and then you need to read something light! Amanda details her romance with Mr. Latte, a man so ignorant about food that he ordered a latte after dinner! Amanda has her hands full educating his palate and winning his heart. Can she be happy with a man who invited her to a chain restaurant for their first date?

Do you have a favorite book about cooking or food? Let us know.


  1. Anonymous10:48 PM

    I'm no gourmet, to be sure. But I do enjoy strapping on the feedbag. And then laughing about it. I must recommend I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris.

  2. Amy Sedaris is a hoot! This is another food book that is fun to listen to.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.