It’s a little known fact that I am a voracious reader. How, you might ask, do I fit this in with my regimented schedule of Netflix viewing and Lifetime movie watching?
It’s tough, believe me, especially now the new Post-Trumpian House of Cards has dropped (and seriously, it’s brutal – “I will NOT yield!”).
I will always make time for reading…and eating. My two great loves. With the summer months ahead, I thought I would take a short break from the restaurant scene for this post and share with you the seven essential food and travel reads for any foodie.
Think of this like “Beach Reads for the Hardcore Foodie”.
If you are expecting Eat Pray Love to be included in the list below, you are mistaken dear reader. I gave up on that ode to self involvement 20 pages in. Too much praying and not enough eating for my liking.
Instead, here are some great reads for the long, hot, summer (or a long plane ride without an iPad – thanks Donald!)
He doesn’t know it, but David Liebovitz is my secret best friend. In my dreams we meet for brunch in Paris and talk food, gossip and just generally horse around. Putting a two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author behind him, he moved to Paris to start a new life. he soon found that life there wasn’t all croissants and cafe au lait. You can also check out his excellent food blog for inspiration and jealousy inspiring skills.
2. The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten
As the food critic for Vogue Magazine (seriously, is that a dream job or what?), Jeffrey Steingarten was given carte blanche to eat, write and travel. His “schtick” is to approach the subject as a novice and immerse himself in it. From eating the real Wagyu in Japan to the evolution of french fries, each essay is fact-packed and peppered with his trademark wit. I have this on my pile of books to reread (again) this summer.You may know this venerable writer as the grumpy judge on Iron Chef America.
3. A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain
Bourdain is mad, bad and dangerous to know. Just how I like my authors. Amazon tells me I purchased this book in 2006 (pre-Qatar!) and it has really withstood the test of time and social media. He takes us from the the crisp white tablecloths of the French laundry in Napa, California to eating the still beating heart of a cobra on the streets of Cambodia. This early book of his is hectic, alarming and always entertaining.
4. My Dining Hell – 20 Ways to Have a Lousy Night Out by Jay Rayner
The man behind THAT review, Jay Rayner has a wit and wisdom many seek to emulate but few actually achieve. This is a short and hilariously funny compilation of some of his most scathing reviews. Read alone unless you like to be judged for laughing out loud in public.
5. On the Noodle Road – From Beijing to Rome With Love and Pasta
To be honest, I wasn’t much interested in China as a destination. This book changed my view. The author – a chef – was struck by the similarities between the humble noodle and the Italian pasta. with an idea to trace its origins, she traverses the Silk Road west across China through Central Asia and Turkey to Italy to discover how disparate times and peoples have given the noodle new shapes and textures. Part travelogue, part recipe book and part journey of self discovery, this book is a gem.
6. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
The grand daddy of all travel memoirs and the inspiration for a million expat moves abroad (and attempts at memoirs), this is a beautifully written account of his move to a place where the pace of life is dictated by the seasons. He also writes lovingly of his travels around his new home and his French dining experiences. A true classic.
7. Sharks Fin and Sichuan Pepper – A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
Yes, another china memoir, but this is a country and region that seems to inspire chefs and writers from diverse backgrounds. Fuschia Dunlop is a well known food writer in the UK, but has spent many years in China, even training in some of its famed culinary institutes. I loved this books for for her well-read yet not condescending tone and a glimpse into a fascinating yet also opaque country through its cuisine. This book is quite rightly considered a classic.
I have a couple of LOOONG plane rises in the months ahead. Do you have any recommendations?
Alan Holden (@Baldrick2Dogs)
Maybe not your choice of genre, but: Long dark teatime of the soul by Douglas Adams
Lovely, Especially ” The man who ate everything”.
Sukanya Seshadri (@essyoukayi)
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler is quite the treat too – New York City, waiting tables, food, and fiction.
Rachel Ann Morris
yes I have heard of this…downloading now