Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Feast of Reading

This is another of these posts that I've been working on for awhile. I've admitted before to being a bit of a food fanatic: I read about food, watch tv about food, and enjoy eating great food. Over the last few months, I've been collecting the titles of interesting looking food related reading to share here, and just when I think my list is complete, another title pops up and my list gets longer. I've added to and edited out from this list probably since December: it's well time to post this. Here for you, is a mixed feast of reading published over the last year or so.

Talking With my Mouth Full: my life as a professional eater (M) by Gail Simmons. Top Chef fan? I am, and like many Canadian Top Chef fans I'm secretly pleased to see a fellow countrywoman at the judges table each week. Simmons' recent memoir talks how she came to be a "professional eater" and gives an inside peek into the world of American celebrity chefs.

Taco USA: how Mexican food conquered
America (M) by Gustavo Arellano. If you have travelled in the US, there is a good chance you have the opportunity to experience great Mexican cuisine, but it wasn't always that way. According to the books press blurb, sales of salsa overtook sales of ketchup in the US sometime in the 1990s, Arellano's book takes a look at the rise of Mexican food in the United States.
Molecular gastronomy: what is it?
Why would you eat it? You may have the answers to some of your questions after a turn through The Sorcerer's Apprentices : a season in the kitchen at Ferran Adrià's elBulli (M) by Lisa Abend in which the author spends a season following 30+ interns who worked in the kitchen at Adrià's influential and now closed Spanish restaurant elBulli. Fascinating reading for the food obsessed.

A logical step from a book about Ferran Adrià is to one about Grant Achatz. Life, on the Line: a chef's story of chasing greatness, facing death, and redefining the way we eat (M) , by Achatz himself is his memoir of his culinary career and his recent battle with cancer. A winner of multiple James Beard Awards, Achatz is the chef and co-owner of Alinea in Chicago, which Gourmet magazine named best restaurant in America in 2006, when Achatz was still in his early 30s. In 2007, Achatz was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer, and was faced with the fact that the treatment that could save his life might well make him lose his sense of taste.

Food and Trembling (M) by Jonah Campbell. Campbell's blog "Still Crapulent After All These Years" is "is about food. perhaps more to the point, it is a blog that is concerned with the question “What is food about?". Food and Trembling is Campbell's recently published collection of short, humourous essays on seemingly all topics food related. From the publisher "What hidden evasions and exclusions lie behind the subtle perfection of the BLT? What is the etymology of the croissant? Why did we drink all that Bud Lite Lime? ... Food & Trembling approaches eating not with a four-figure expense account, but a rare insight and fierce appetite for the pleasures of the table. Also chips. Too many chips."

I'll finish with the most recent title and one forthcoming one: The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance (M) by Thomas McNamee is a biography of the restaurant critic and cookbook author whose approach to food changed the way that American's think about food.

And (more Top Chef references), June sees the release of Marcus Samuelsson's memoir Yes, Chef (M) . From the publisher: "It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson."

That's a lot of reading, but if you you can't get enough food books, you might want to check out David's recent post about the James Beard Award winners for culinary writing.

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