The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook – (Alice B. Toklas, 1954) A collection of stories of meals shared with famous friends such as Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway, with recipes and memories of wartime in Paris. Toklas’s long association with Gertrude Stein is well known; less well known is her extraordinary skill with food. James Beard called her “one of the really great cooks of all time.” A culinary treat!
Appetite: Food as Metaphor: An Anthology of Women Poets, Vol. 1 - (Phyllis Stowell & Jeanne Foster, 2002) In poems by Jane Kenyon, Lucille Clifton, and Anne Sexton, food emerges as a re-occurring and central metaphor in the way women live, in the pulse of the everyday, and as a vehicle for the exotic. From coffee to caviar, from potatoes to dandelions-even in hunger and anorexia-the metaphors of food have worked like yeast in the imagination of these poets.
Eating in America: A History – (Waverly Root & Richard de Rochemont, 1976) The story of American eating begins and ends with the fact that American food, by most of the world’s standards, is not very good. This is a rather sad note considering the “land of plenty” the first American settlers found, and even sadder considering that with the vast knowledge of food we possess, we have still managed to create things such as the TV dinner and “Finger Lickin’ Good” chicken. Nevertheless, America’s eating habits, the philosophy behind these habits, and much of the food itself are deliciously fascinating. Wavery Root and Richard de Rochemont, in a style that is rich, tasty, and ironic, chronicle the history of American food and eating customs from the time of the earliest explorers to the present.
Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm – (Davis Mas Masumoto, 1996) An eloquent, humorous memoir of one critical year in the life of an organic peach farmer. Masumoto reflects on saving a family and a way of life, and the market values that threaten both. An author with “a farmer’s calluses and a poet’s soul.”
Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating - (Jane Goodall, 2005) Dr. Goodall introduces us to inspiring everyday heroes like a third-generation farmer who battled Monsanto and won; French activists who protest against genetically modified crops; and John Mackey, the founder of whole foods, who has vowed to sell only ethically raised animal products.
Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet - (Frances and Anna Lappe, 2002) Follow the author and her daughter as they travel to Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, where they discovered answers to one of the most urgent issues of our time: whether we can transcend the rampant consumerism and capitalism to find the paths that each of us can follow to heal our lives as well as the planet.
How to Cook a Wolf — (MFK Fisher, 1942) If you love to read and love to cook (or have to cook), you will relish How to Cook a Wolf, by MFK Fisher. Written in 1942 to inspire courage in those daunted by wartime shortages, the book has become a classic. It is a memoir, a cookbook, and a commentary on the war, sprinkled liberally with delicious quotations about food from Emerson, Thackeray, Tolstoy and others. Fisher wrote over a dozen books, most of them focused on the art of cooking and eating. During the bleak years of World War II, rather than counsel hungry people on cutting back and making do, she gave her readers license to dream, to construct adventurous meals, even with simple ingredients, that would feed the spirit as much as the body.
Let Us Eat Cake: Adventures in Food and Friendship – (Sharon Boorstin, 2002) Sometimes, the smallest things – the aroma of cookies baking, the feel of dough in one’s hands – can trigger poignant food memories. For food writer and restaurant critic Sharon Boorstin, it was the discovery of a long lost notebook of recipes she’d collected from her mother, relatives, and friends that inspired her to reconnect with the loved ones of her past. As she reached out to the recipe givers – many of whom she hasn’t seen in years – she uncovered and embraced the power of cooking and food in establishing bonds among women. Let Us Eat Cake celebrates these connections. With dozens of delicious recipes and vintage photos, this moving book will inspire readers to remember and cherish their own experiences with food, family, and friends.
My Year of Meats (Ruth L. Ozeki, 1998)—An American TV producer meets a beleaguered Japanese housewife in this mesmerizing debut novel that has captivated readers worldwide. Newsweek describes the novel as “a sexy and funny cross-cultural tale of two seemingly disparate women that is a feast that leaves you hungry for whatever Ozeki cooks up next.”
Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family – (Patricia Volk, 2001) Patricia Volk’s delicious memoir lets us into her big, crazy, loving, and infuriating family, where you’re never just hungry – you’re starving to death; and you’re never just full - you’re stuffed. Volk’s family fed New York City for one hundred years, from 1888 when her great-grandfather introduced pastrami to America until 1988, when her father closed his garment center restaurant. But as seductively as Volk evokes this food, Stuffed is at heart a funny, fresh, and profoundly moving paean to family.
Tender at the Bone—(Ruth Reichl, 1998) Hilarity runs through these stories about a young woman who discovered at a young age that “food could be a way of making sense of the world.” From the gourmand Monsieur du Croix , who served Reichl her first soufflé, to the politically correct cooks of Berkeley in the 1970s, championing the organic food movement, Reichl finds humor and poignancy. “Witty, fair-minded, brave, and a wonderful writer,” writes the New York Times Book Review.
Year in Provence —(Peter Mayle,1989) A book as much about dreams and seasons as about place, Peter Mayle’s story of moving into a 200-year old stone farmhouse in a remote area of Provence is a delight. Follow the movement of the seasons in a culture that has not forgotten how to live in tune with its surroundings, relishing truffles in winter, and tarte au citron in June, Mayle’s tale is light-hearted, and funny. It will have you longing for a trip to France yourself.