Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Food books for holidays

On Tuesday, I did my last event for 2008 at the Borders on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I boarded the plane in Seattle on Tuesday, arrived at 3 p.m. and by 5 p.m., I was in the bar having a glass of Bordeaux with my friend Judy and her pal Cheryl. (Turns out that I landed on the day that one of the biggest political stories in Chicago history broke, namely that the Illinois governor was taped discussing how to personally benefit from President Elect Barack Obama's open seat in the U.S. Senate.)

I believe that writers should help each other out. Food books make great holiday gifts. So, with Borders employee, Mary, we raided the food lit section and took a selection of titles upstairs where I did my talk. So I discussed my book, but also a healthy selection of other titles. Afterward, I talked with food writing pal Scott Warner (left to me, in front of the tree), and IACP comrade Amelie (right).

Here are some of the titles that I recommend for holiday presents. By no means is this an exhaustive list. And, while you're at it, head to your local independent bookstore to buy them :)
  • By Julia Child, The Way to Cook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and My Life in France
    My favorite cookbook by Julia is The Way to Cook. Great photography, clear explanations and a focus on fundamentals beyond French cooking.


  • Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey
    A lovely book about her life growing up in India, this provides a lovely escape to a simple, colorful and fragrantly delicious life.
  • Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford by Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris
    This is a new title in hardcover about a woman who chronicled American cooking by eating her way across America. I'm giving this one to my mom.
  • Eat Memory edited by Amanda Hesser
    A new volume of food writing from the New York Times, a gift for the sophisticated palate.
  • The United States of Arugula by David Kamp
    Great history of food writing and the emerging tastes of Americans.
  • The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8 Lee and Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuschia Dunlop
    Both books discuss the voluminous subject that is Chinese cuisine, with Lee focused on Chinese food in America and Dunlop traveling around the old country.

  • Alone in a Kitchen with an Eggplant by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
    One of my favorite compilations of food writing in recent memory, it focuses on people cooking, eating and dining alone.
  • The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman
    Great primer that's both opinionated and forthright, its slimness belies the wealth of information it contains. It breaks down cuisine into useful bits of information with an extended glossary of cooking terms. Great book for a foodie.
  • Hungry Planet: What the World Eats
    A large coffee table style book resplendent with photos that illustrates how people throughout the world eat. Very engaging, a nice gift for anyone who read and enjoyed The Omnivore's Dilemma.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Gigi said...

Hello Kathleen,

I was at Borders Chicago and enjoyed meeting and listening to your life story. I loved your book and cant wait for the movie!

I am the French girl if you remember who is going to Rouen at la Couronne, I am leaving actually to Paris tomorrow and will be in Rouen and Lille and will celebrate NYE in Paris.

Well I put my name on the drawing so hopefully I can come back to France next year.

Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee



Gigi Olmstead

December 25, 2008 at 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Carly said...

Kathleen, I missed your event in Chicago, and I am so disappointed! I got the book for Christmas and loved it. I listened to your interview on NPR this past hour. I genuinely hope you come back to Chicago as I would love to meet you.

My New Year's resolution is to taste, taste, taste...

January 5, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

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