Archive for the ‘Books about food’ Category

If your family enjoys a home-cooked “Italian night” at least once a week, you can probably thank Marcella Hazan. And if you are going to thank Hazan, be sure to thank her husband, too.

Hazan, considered by some as one of the most influential Italian cooks in the United States and Britain, has made certain, through six classic cookbooks and nearly four decades of classes, that her followers understand the taste of Italian cooking beyond spaghetti and meatballs.

And now Hazan has selected the best stories from her own life to present Amarcord: Marcella Remembers with all the warmth and humor of a long meal in famiglia made from the choicest ingredients.

To read a full review and listen to an interview with the author, click here.


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If love grew from the ground, it might be a sun-ripened tomato. And now it is August in the Northeast, when an abundance of the succulent fruit momentarily clouds memories of beautiful – yet tasteless – imported produce.

But love, and organic tomatoes, do not ripen without patient labor and battles with anxiety. Farmer and writer Tim Stark illustrates the latter with chaotic flair in Heirloom: Notes From An Accidental Tomato Farmer.

To read a full review and listen to an interview with the author, click here.

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Say the words “Chinese food” and most people conjure up white cartons filled with fried rice. Or, some may imagine banquet feasts that feature “delicacies” such as monkey brains.

The truth lies somewhere in between, and with Fuchsia Dunlop as your lively guide you’ll learn more about Chinese food than you can possibly digest in Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China.

To read the full review and hear an interview with the author, click here.

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Over the past decade, more than 10,000 books relating to diet have been published in English. In this torrent raining down on us each year one thing has become clear: Food is an enemy.

Whatever happened to giving thanks for a bountiful spread before digging in? Eating used to be an act of grace, not one of terror. Michael Pollan, journalist and author of the bestselling “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” dishes up an intriguing answer in his new book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

To read the full review, click here.

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Behind every bestseller stands a discerning editor, just as behind every delicious meal stirs an exacting cook. So one can only surmise that behind every successful cookbook is an editor who wields pen and paring knife with equal skill. Judith Jones proves she is a master of both in her memoir The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food.

The buds of these twin talents first emerged in 1948Paris, where a young Jones was tasting life beyond the strictures of her Vermont upbringing. (Garlic, for example, was considered by her mother “alien and vulgar.”) On a whim, her summer holiday became a three-year stay full of romantic charm: shopping in open-air markets, securing a job in publishing, learning French, and marrying Evan Jones, her former boss.

Eventually the Joneses resettled in New York where they strove to maintain their European palates despite the limited offerings of supermarkets. (This was at a time when many American recipes required a can opener and emphasized speed.) But a sea change was occurring in American kitchens. More people were traveling abroad, discovering new tastes, and wanting to re-create these meals at home.

As gastronomy caught on in the US, cookbooks began to appear on Jones’s editing desk at Knopf, including “a huge manuscript on French cooking” by three unknown women. One of those women turned out to be Julia Child and the manuscript became “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Scores of other partnerships with cooks and chefs followed as Jones helped to establish Edna LewisMarion Cunningham, and James Beard, along with many others, as household names.

Longstanding cookbooks with a mishmash of European influences experienced new clarity under Jones’s pen as she sought out cooks who knew how to add flavor to a dish using fresh, local ingredients. Pages of Jell-O recipes disappeared.

With Jones as a guide, cooking becomes a religious act to share with others or experience alone. Her adventure begins as a young woman at a table for one in Paris and concludes advocating that singles (Jones is now a widow) should persist in the luxury of preparing and enjoying a good meal. Throughout, her tone is expert, casual, as if one is listening to a story at her table after a satisfying meal. She shares recipes and tips from her mentors and encourages all to improvise. It’s an invitation into the kitchen that’s hard to resist.

This review first appeared in The Christian Science Monitor.

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