From Fried Larvae to Nachos
Whenever I do class visits, one type of book is guaranteed to wake up the audience: anything to do with food, especially if it seems weird, like eating deep fried larvae (please note: I'm not judging the appeal of deep fried larvae, but most middle schools students don't eat them on a regular basis). But it doesn't have to be odd. A cookbook with excellent pictures of nachos is just as appealing. Everyone needs to eat.
Memoir and travel books centered around food have a particular appeal for me. Almost everyone has memories that involve food, whether it was a special occasion or a disastrous first attempt at a recipe. Although it isn't a food memoir, The Glass Castle opens with Jeannette Walls boiling a hotdog, and can't you see that so easily? Boiled hotdogs were a staple of my childhood. But maybe they weren't for your childhood? Maybe you ate cheese and butter sandwiches wrapped in oily wax paper like Gabrielle Hamilton describes in Blood, Bones, & Butter. So many childhood memories and big life events involve food in some manner.
Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan
This loving memoir about the author's relationship with her mother features many Persian recipes. It opens right after her mother's death when Donia cleans out her kitchen and all the smells bring back warm memories. We're very fortunate to host this author at two of our branches in the next few weeks.
Kitchen Confidental: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
Bourdain has many books about food, but this first memoir is my favorite. He talks about the rude, crude, machismo world of line cooks and two-star restaurants. He makes the cooking profession seem like the marines, but harder! I also like his later travel book A Cook's Tour: In Search of a Perfect Meal .
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl
Reichl is a restaurant critic for the New York Times, but this memoir focuses on her childhood and how she learned to appreciate good meals. She certainly didn't learn from her mother who famously served spoiled foods that gave the family food poisoning more than once.
Sound Bites: An Eating Tour with Franz Ferdinand by Alex Kapranos
You know what touring bands get to do? Eat in cool places all around the world, and fortunately Alex Kapranos is also a good writer. He describes all the excellent (and sometimes otherwise) meals he has while touring with Franz Ferdinand.
I'm Not the New Me by Wendy McClure
This book is about the author's often contentious relationship with food as she tries to lose weight. It's also extremely funny and includes reproductions of diet food recipes cards from Weight Watchers circa 1970. Trust me, you want to see them.
And of course there are many, many others. Share some of your favorite ones in the comments if you like. And please come see Donia Bijan who truly is delightful.
CynthiaR firmly believes that calories do not count while traveling.