Monday, October 20, 2008
Books about Food
Wake County has a fantastic library system. Procuring a library card was one of my first acts as an official Wake County citizen.
Since that day, I've been one of WCPL's most faithful readers. And lately I've been reading books about food.
My most recent read was Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, former restaurant critic at the New York Times. I spent most of the book wishing I was a professional restaurant patron and wondering if anyone -- even those with palates as sophisticated at Ruth's -- can taste a drop of squid ink in a complicated dish. It kind of sounds like the princess and the pea. Except with squid ink.
Okay, maybe that's a stretch.
In any case, Garlic and Sapphires was a fun read. I'd recommend it. And if you've got an appetite for more food books, here are a few others I've read recently.
Classic 30-Minute Meals by Rachael Ray
She's a little wacky, but Rach comes up with some good food ideas. If you can get past the cover photo (yes, her shirt does say "YUM-O!") I think you'll dig this cookbook.
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee
Lee traces the history and rise of American Chinese food through her search for Powerball winners who played the numbers from their fortune cookies. Highly entertaining, except for the three pages in which Chinese food becomes a metaphor for life in the American melting pot. I'd skip those if I were you.
The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
Continuing on my Chinese food kick, I moved on to this novel, by the author of Lost in Translation. It's the story of a food writer named Maggie who travels to China to settle some legal affairs for her deceased husband. While there, she is assigned a story on the Chinese-American cook Sam Liang, who is preparing for a huge feast for a cultural festival in Beijing. The descriptions of food (and its preparation) are amazing. I loved the book until it turned into a love story, at which point I alternated between salivating (food descriptions) and gagging (love).
Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan
This novella is about the final evening at a Red Lobster restaurant in Connecticut, told from the point of view of the honest, earnest restaurant manager who will be reassigned to an Olive Garden when his restaurant closes. Doesn't make me want to eat at a Red Lobster anytime soon, but it's a good book.
Stand Facing the Stove by Anne Mendelson
The story of Irma Rombauer, author of The Joy of Cooking, and how her classic book came to be. Mendelson covers Joy from its initial self-publication to its current form. Who knew the history of a cookbook could be so interesting? It feels a little like a soap opera -- but in a good way.
Waiting for me right now, courtesy of interlibrary loan, is Melanie Dunea's My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals. Dunea, a photographer, documents the food that famous chefs would request before they, uh, died, I guess. Sounds a little morbid but the photos are supposed to be great. Count me in.