Monday, June 9, 2008

I digress: eating their words

[Yet another version of a post first shared with the good folk over at Bakespace.]

I have too many cookbooks by my count, but I also am aware that many people own far more cookbooks than me. Of course, I'd have more cookbooks myself if I had a bigger apartment.

It's a little odd that it's so important to me that all of my cookbooks reside in my kitchen. as the other rooms and books are just steps from there, but that's the way it is. Luckily, I was enabled a bit when someone gave me shelves for my birthday to house some of the cookbooks.

Merchandised


I like to keep all of the books I consider "food writing" in with the cookbooks, too, though not all of these books have recipes in them. I didn't read much that would qualify as food writing until Thanksgiving a few years ago when I picked up Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me With Apples at Jim and Martha's house. I had to read it quickly so that I would finish it before the end of the long weekend, but it was a lovely book. I also picked up and enjoyed Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, so I continue exploring the genre.

Here's what I've been reading since:

1. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I related to Julie in part, I'm sure, because she is around my age and lived not far from where I live. There were other similarities, leading me to feel her pre-midlife-crisis angst a little too personally. This made a nice counterpoint to:

2. Toast by Nigel Slater because both books interweave a sort of sexual awareness along with the discovery of food and flavor. Toast tasted more like a memoir, though, as opposed to the blog-becomes-book Julie (no offense, Julie!).

3. Hotel Bemelmans by Ludwig Bemelmans (yes, the one who wrote and illustrated Madeline.) is an entertaining look at the New York hotel industry in the 20s and 30s. Having Anthony Bourdain write the introduction was unnecessary. I don't need the book's author put into modern perspective as "the original bad boy" to bite.

4/5. The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten are collections of articles on various foodie topics, and I enjoyed reading them, but the humor I felt was lurking didn't always come through cleanly. I don't think Steingarten would do much more than sniff and nod at my culinary dabblings, but that's okay. I'm a curmudgeon myself sometimes (though when it comes to film more than my diet). There's no-doubt-dated food science information in the books, as some of the articles collected were written 10 or more years ago, but I love the author's suspicion of picky eaters and lactose intolerance.

Next up? I'm going back to Bourdain. I picked up A Cook's Tour in the hopes it would inspire me to higher levels of gastronomic adventure. Please share your favorite food writing/memoirs in the comments. I've never been one to shy away from a list or a pile of books-to-read.

5 comments:

Eva said...

"A Cook's Tour" is really great. We borrowed it from Jim and Martha after last thanksgiving, and read it together during the plane trip back to the west coast. It tempted us to scrap our plans for the Vietnam trip to just go back to Japan again. The section on staying in a Ryokuken (traditional inn) in Japan was just so amazingly mouth watering...

Jennette said...

Good! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I'll start reading it today.

anna said...

As the major contributor to J&M's food writing collection, I will add your recommendations to the potential gift list. Julie and Julia was already there, since I read it this spring and mightily enjoyed it. The book I am most excited about right now is one that hasn't come out yet: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg (Orangette blogger). I will be placing my preorder on Amazon any day now.

Jennette said...

Thanks for the tip on the blog and the book! I just took a quick peek at Orangette and it looks great.

Mechanic said...

jeff steingarten was my introduction to the hemisphere of food. please remind me to tell you stories about him, his trial and error cooking process is intense.

and i must lend you jaques pepins book

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