I hate to cook. I really resent the amount of time it takes – from planning a week’s worth of menus to doing the grocery shopping to the time it takes to cook three meals every day. ICK! I have been cooking three meals a day, seven days a week, for nearly twenty years. When does the Zone Diet fairy start making deliveries to my house???
I do like reading books about food and cooking, so here are a few of my favorites. Bon appetit!
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
This book ignited (that’s a little inside joke) a whole sub-genre of books built around food and recipes. I remember reading this in college, lying on the lawn under a tree, unable to put it down. If you like magical realism, romance, and food, this is the book for you.
Warning: this book is seriously steamy. I don’t remember how the movie compares, but I doubt it can match the pure sensuality of this read.
We were thrilled to have Melissa Senate as a guest on the Ball recently to celebrate the publication of this new novel. The Love Goddess’ Cooking School is the story of Holly Maguire, who has recently taken over her beloved grandmother’s cooking school, and her students, all of whom are seeking something a little more than cooking lessons.
Warning: You will want to eat large quantities of Italian food after (and while!) reading this book – I am still fantasizing about linguini with clam sauce and tiramisu. YUM.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Fannie Flagg
Have you ever had fried green tomatoes? They are dangerously tasty. Of course, deep-frying shoe leather and dipping it in ranch dressing would be tasty, but the green tomatoes do add a little something.
But that’s not the point. The point is that this is a beautiful story of friendship, of love lost and found, of re-inventing yourself in crisis and defending the people you love when they need it most. This is also one of the few books I’ve read where the movie (Mary Stuart Masterson, Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, and Mary-Louise Parker? How can you lose?) is just as good – though quite different – as the book.
Warning: Do not do a Google image search for ‘fried green tomatoes’ if you are hungry. I’m just sayin’.
Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell
This book came out when I was engaged in my own little quarter-life crisis, trying to figure out what was meaningful to me and how I could go about building a life that contained those things, so I felt incredible sympathy for Julie. Lost and confused and lacking direction, Julie set herself the goal of cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, blogging about it all the way.
Of course, while she was learning how to bone a duck and create the perfect aspic, Julie learned a lot about herself, and fell in love with Julia (and ate a whole lot of butter). I’ve heard from people who read the book they felt Julie was whiny and self-centered, and I’d like to know who is not both of those things in their twenties, but Julia Child is fortunately neither of those things. The movie made a good choice in including her, and in casting Meryl Streep to play her – absolutely lovable.
Warning: This book may tempt you to try things in the kitchen you are absolutely not good enough to attempt.
A few more recommendations:
Bread Alone, Judith Ryan Hendricks (not for anyone on a low-carb diet!)
Good Things, Mia King (the book that brought me to the Ball years ago!)
Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (though you pretty much won’t want to eat anything ever again after reading it)
Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl (a memoir of her time as a food critic)
Do you have any good food reads to recommend?
P.S. I’m appearing tonight at Borders Books and Music in Baileys Crossroads, Virginia. If you’re in the area, come by and visit! Or check my Events page to see if I’m coming to a city near you!