Deb Dana’s Favorite Foodie Lit

Like Deb Kerry, I have a hard time playing favorites when it comes to books. I could talk about CRIME AND PUNISHMENT or A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY or 1984. But where would the list end? Surely I would include MIDDLESEX and THE CORRECTIONS. What about A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS and THE HANDMAID’S TALE? Oh, and of course my favorite chick lit/lad lit books, like CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?, BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY and ABOUT A BOY.

As you can see, the list would be mighty long.

So, instead, I thought I’d give you a list of my favorite foodie books (even though I kind of hate the term “foodie”), since so much of THE GIRLS’ GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS revolves around food. I think Hannah Sugarman would approve.


My Life in FranceMY LIFE IN FRANCE, by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme

Oh, how I adored this book! The book tells the story of Julia Child’s years in France, and I dare anyone to read her description of trying trout meuniere for the first time and not crave a serving of buttery fish right that instant. Her passion for food leaps through the page, and I found myself cheering her on as she worked to publish her first cookbook, the now legendary Art of French Cooking.




Like Water for ChocolateLIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, by Laura Esquivel

Magical realism isn’t usually my favorite genre, but l loved the use of food in this novel. I still think about the scene where Tita cries into the cake she is preparing for Pedro and Rosaura’s wedding, and when the cake is served, all of the guests begin wailing as well. I would actually love to reread this one because I haven’t read it in years.




Kitchen ConfidentialKITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, by Anthony Bourdain

The book that launched Tony Bourdain to rockstar status. I learned more about the restaurant industry than I ever wanted to know (hint: it involves a lot of sex and drugs). I don’t think I’ve ever ordered fish on a Monday after reading this book.




Kitchen DaughterTHE KITCHEN DAUGHTER, by Jael McHenry

This book tells the story of a young woman with Asperger’s, who finds salvation through cooking old family recipes after the death of her parents. Doing so conjures up the ghosts of deceased family members, who reveal family secrets. Bonus: there is a delicious recipe at the beginning of every chapter.




Digging to AmericaDIGGING TO AMERICA, by Anne Tyler

While technically not a “foodie novel,” this book by Anne Tyler tells the story of two families who meet at an airport as they both await the arrival of their adopted babies from China. One family invites the other to an “arrival party,” an event that is repeated each year — and not without some competitiveness. The food descriptions, particularly of the Iranian-American dishes, made my mouth water. I would love to have the recipe for one of the Persian rice dishes mentioned in the book!



Blood Bones and ButterBLOOD, BONES, AND BUTTER, by Gabrielle Hamilton

Another chef memoir, this one by the owner of the New York restaurant Prune. Hamilton is a quirky subject, to be sure, but I adored her writing.






Okay, so I’m reaching way back for this one, but as a little kid, this was one of my favorite stories. Not one of the other farm animals wants to help the little red hen do the legwork to bake her bread — harvest and thresh and mill the wheat, bake it into a loaf — but then all of them want to eat it when it’s done (not that any of us knows what THAT’S like…amiright?). I loved the moral of the story (so help me, I was always a goody two shoes), but what I loved most was gazing at the illustrations of those luscious loaves of baked bread. What can I say? My love of food started young.


What are YOUR favorite foodie books? What am I missing on this list?



4 Replies to “Deb Dana’s Favorite Foodie Lit”

  1. I don’t read foodie books intentionally (except for yours!) but I love it whenever I read it by accident (well, the book is intentional, the foodie part is the happy accident). I also loved Jael’s book. Eh hem. Did you notice anyone FAMILIAR in the acknowledgments eh hem?

    I’d recommend adding these to your list:


    Stacey Ballis’s GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT

    So—are your new books foodie books too? Because I adored TGGTLASC and am totally signing up for more like that! xo

  2. So many books include recipes now, either listed at the end of the story or woven throughout. The first foodie fiction I ever remember reading was the Diane Mott Davidson series. Francis Mayes books made me fall in love with Tuscan cooking and Peter Mayle did the same for Provence. Now, even Kristen Harmel’s latest The Sweetness of Forgetting includes culinary delights.

    And thanks for reminding me I must read Blood, Bones, and Butter. It’s been on my list for ages.

  3. I loved MY LIFE IN FRANCE and also KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL. I love foodie books about chefs and their lives – they’re always so interesting to read because their lives are so different than my own. They do make me hungry, though (as Kerry mentioned) so I usually try to read them on the exercise bike to keep myself from snacking!

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