Given that 99.9% of this blog is devoted to food, I’m not sure why it took me four months to put together a list of my favorite food related books. But ce la vie. This month, in preparation for Thanksgiving, I wanted to share my favorite food related books. I’ve only included one cookbook- mostly because I really completely rely on the internet of food things* for all my recipes. Hopefully you’ll be culinary inspired. or Hungry. There is a high chance that you will be hungry after reading any of these books.
Side note: My parents and G+I are traveling (separately) over Thanksgiving, so we’re throwing a Friendsgiving at my parent’s place this weekend. So far the guest list is 25 people, including Steph!– so stay tuned for a post on how the party turned out. My parents have planned the menu so I’m in charge of green beans and snacks. (They let me handle the most important stuff obviously.) Let me know in the comments how you celebrate!
1. Truffle Boy by Ian Purkayastha
Yes, this book already made the list but it’s that good.
Truffle Boy covers Ian Purkayastha’s journey with exotic food- from his first taste of truffles (age 15 in rural Arkansas) to his high stakes dealings with truffle kingpins in Serbia, meth-head foragers in Oregon, crooked businessman and maniacal chefs in Manhattan, gypsy truffle hunters in the Hungarian forests and a supreme adventure to find “Gucci” mushrooms in the Himalayan foothills.
Read When: You’ve run out of Chef’s Table episodes on Netflix and want to know about how those chefs get those exotic truffles and want to impress others with your identifying fake Wagyu beef.
Read with: The best whisky or scotch you have. It will be worth it.
Bianca Bosker traded her job writing about tech companies to throw herself headfirst in wine- tasting, smelling, studying, and
stalking hanging out with other sommeliers. Cork Dork chronicles her self-designed wine immersion- from working as a cellar rat in a top New York City restaurant, joining exclusive blind tasting clubs and bagging a TopSomm guest judge spot. As a result, this book is a delightful blend of science, memoir and encounters with people who are deadly serious about wine.
Read When: You want to know what the big deal is between a $20 and $200 bottle of wine.
Read with: Wine. Obviously.
3. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
In 1993, Ruth Reichl became the most influential person in the New York food scene- the New York Times food critic. Garlic and Saphires chronicles Reichl’s ten year stint with the Times, and her effort to bring good food to the masses. Reichl disguises herself with wigs, make-up, clothing and personas to avoid being recognized and avoid any red carpet treatment that might unduly influence her reviews. The result is a smart and witty reflection about American national identity, the relationship to food, and the concepts of service, status and privilege.
Read When: You want to be a NYT food critic but don’t know what it entails
Read with: a full stomach
4. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
The book begins at a four hour lunch on New Years Day. In this charming and warm memoir, Peter Mayle chronicles the details of his first year living in the remote French countryside of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. The pages are peppered with hilarious accounts of eating outside during the chilly mistral, exposing a frozen baguette ring (sacrelig!) to using pigs to uncover the prize black Périgord truffles. Mayle’s descriptions of his neighbors, laborers, markets and restaurants make this an especially fun weekend or holiday read.
Read When: You want food and wanderlust
Read with: Cheese, fresh baguettes and a good glass of wine.
5. Cravings by Chrissy Tiegen
And lastly, the only cookbook I’ve ever loved and wanted to actually recommend. Chrissy Tiegen truly makes food you want to eat. So far I’ve made her pork stuffed cucumber soup, chili garlic sauce, lettuce wraps, actual drunk noodles, Gaucamole, and chicken grapow. The best thing is Tiegen covers a mix of recipes from healthy salads (she is a swimsuit model) to absolutely decadent junk food. This book has a recipe for every occasion.
Read When: You’re hosting Friendsgiving
Read with: You need a fun and refreshing and actually useful cookbook.
*this is a totally nerdy thing from my industry. Bonus points to you if you know what the internet of things is. But for real- I rely mostly on Pinterest and buzzfeed for my recipes.
It’s October, which means two things: Fall & Halloween. For most, that means curling up in cozy sweaters, venturing (and then obviously instagramming) into an apple orchard, and settling down to watch Hocus Pocus. Or The Addams Family. I’m not picky but you have to love at least one of those movies. While my local CVS starting selling Halloween candy in August, I thought I’d wait to share some of my favorite “spookier” reads.
A Cat Among Pigeons by Agatha Christie
A thrilling classic from the grand dame of mystery. It was tempting to choose A Murder on the Orient Express, which still stands as the best-selling mystery novel of all time, but I’m actually horrified by the recent movie trailer. Cat is set in a fictional English all girl’s boarding school, and features (though briefly) features the detective Hercule Poirot, Christie’s most famous creation and the only fictional character to have gotten an obituary in The New York Times. There is crime, there is espionage, there is international conspiracies…basically everything that makes a mystery wonderful.
Pair with: Chocolate Milk (with a shot of bailey’s if necessary)
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
There are few lines in literature that are more universally recognized than Rebecca’s opening: “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again.” In this suspenseful gothic mystery, a young woman marries an older man only to be plunged into the swirling secrets surrounding his first wife’s demise.
Pair with: Scotch. To keep you warm while reading about Mrs. Danvers (she’ll bring a shiver to your spine).
Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers
Gaudy Night takes Harriet- everyone’s favorite ass-kicking mystery novelist– and her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey, to Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater, for a reunion, only to find themselves the targets of a nightmare of harassment and mysterious, murderous threats.
Pair with: A G&T or a Pimm’s Cup
In the Woods by Tana French
In Tana French’s debut novel, Dublin Murder Square Detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox start working a murder case involving a young girl in the woods near archaeological dig. These are the same woods where twenty years earlier, Ryan was found hugging a tree trunk in terror, wearing wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of what happened to the two other children who were with him. In this psychological thriller, you’ll weave in and out of the present, trying, like Ryan, to figure out the mystery of the girl and his past.
Pair with: A beer. Because you’ll need one after diving into this suspenseful thriller.
Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint
A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder is the first volume in Shamini Flint’s Inspector Singh series. Inspector Singh is a detective in the more classic British style– using his mind over body (which happens to be decidedly overweight). Singh is sent from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to ensure that ‘justice is seen to be done’ in the case of a high-profile Singaporean ex-model, Chelsea, who married a wealthy Malaysian businessman, Alan Lee, now murdered outside the family home. It is a story of wealth against poverty/ capitalism against conservationism. Though this is my least favorite of the Inspector Singh Investigates- you absolutely must start here! You’ll be sucked into Singh’s reluctant (not lazy) brand of inquiry and antagonism.
Pair with: a Chai and samosa. In Singh’s honor.
Post script: I wanted to keep this at an even five books though I could go on for hours and hours about my favorite mystery novels. I debated for a long time whether or not to replace the “Inspector Singh” series with the “Inspector Puri” series. But when I noticed that all the books were written by women, I just had to keep it going….
There is a difference between a good book and a book that disrupts your life. Life disrupters do not need to be some estoteric, written in Latin, brain busting, require a portable dictionary type of book. They are the books that introduce a new perspective, make you a little more sensitive to humanity or books that bring joy when you need it. They should be books that you will think about months later at random moments. In honor of my incredible friend S’s– who has consistently encouraged me to keep writing—birthday, I wanted to share books that have kept me thinking. Just like S has.
Enjoy. x. – A
Edit: This list will keep changing as I can reading. I’m sure I’ve left something out, so please leave suggestions in the comments before! Continue reading “the book mark | 10 books to disrupt your life”
When I’m not pursuing, researching or consuming food (and you know, actually doing my job), I love to sit curled up on my couch— or on top of the heating vents at my parents house- reading a good book. My reading habits started early thanks to a cash incentive program, some might say a bribe, from my mom. For every book I read, she’d fund a dollar towards an American girl doll. This backfired (for her) since I ended up with six American girl dolls and a serious reading addiction. **Thanks Mom, love you! ** Fast forward to today, and I’m still a complete and utter book worm. As summer wraps down, I thought I’d share some of my most recent reads. And yes, this is 100% because I have not been able to narrow down the whole Top 5 or best reads of your life or whatever type of list. Please feel free to share your favorite reads in the comments below.