Sunday, October 12, 2008

Food Biographies

I'm not a huge reader of books by chefs and other food professionals, but still have read quite a number.

I very much enjoyed Jacques Pépin's The Apprentice and Julia Child's My Life in France. They both know food, France and how to tell a story. For lovely stories about life and food in the French provinces, try Susan Herrmann Loomis' On Rue Tatin and Georgeanne Brennan's A Pig in Provence.

I liked Judith Jones' The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food a lot less, and I found Bill Buford's Heat to be interesting but lacking something. I thought Anthony Bourdain's classic Kitchen Confidential was a more exciting "view of the restaurant from inside."

Although written by critics as opposed to practitioners, the great The Food of France by Waverly Root and A.J. Liebling's Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris stand above the rest for insight into the majesty of French cuisine.

I recently read a nice little book, Untangling My Chopsticks, by Victoria Riccardi, which deals with the amazing food that is part of the tea ceremony. If you are interested in Japan (where I and my wife lived for three years), she gives you plenty of good insights and fun anecdotes.

A quirky book, and a good read, is Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, by Julie Powell, a young New York City woman who didn't know how to cook but decided to cook every recipe in Julia Child's seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Funny and moving.

I think I'm leaving some out and will add to the list later.

Bobby Jay

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