Reading in the Kitchen, by Deb Eleanor

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 book coverLike 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.

The Love Goddess' Cooking School Book CoverThe Love Goddess’ Cooking School, Melissa Senate

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.

Cover of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggFried 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’.

Book Cover of Julie and Julia by Julie PwellJulie 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!

18 Replies to “Reading in the Kitchen, by Deb Eleanor”

  1. So happy to discover Love Goddess on your list, Eleanor–thank you! I love all the books you mentioned (Bread Alone is a favorite of mine too) and I also love How To Bake A Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal and Georgia’s Kitchen by Jenny Nelson. Have a great time at your reading tonight! XO

    1. I adored it – so wanted to eat my way through Italy while I was reading it.

      Thank you so much for the recommendations – wish you could come celebrate with me!

  2. I love cooking books (though I always end up having to put them down and go make whatever recipe piques my interest). You might like Kathleen Flinn’s “The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry.” It’s a memoir from an American woman who loses her high-powered executive job and decides to run off and enroll in the Cordon Bleu cooking school with limited French and somewhat limited cooking experience. Great read, and I had the pleasure of hearing her read a section of it at a book signing a couple years ago.

    Bon appetit!


    1. Reminder: come visit Tawna and bring books about cooking as hostess present. Leave well-fed.

      Thanks for the recommendation – I love memoir like that and it sounds great!

  3. I LOVE Fast Food Nation, and it helps keep me (mostly) away from some nasty stuff at the supermarket and drive-through.

    Another great food book? Former Deb Alicia’s SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH. I love it because the main character is (like myself) a DISASTER in the kitchen, but learns to find herself through the creative process of baking. Really a lovely, funny, quirky book.

  4. I’m a big fan of Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schultz catering murder mysteries. Her recipes are fabulous. Joanne Fluke has a cozy mystery series – a bit cozier than I’d prefer the last few books – but full of old friends in Minnesota and cookies galore.

    Say, we were both at a Border’s for an event tonight. I was in San Diego and now I’m on the red eye back to NY – trying to beat the next snow storm. Hope VA went great!

  5. I don’t enjoy cooking on a daily basis too but I too love reading books based on it. Loved Like Water for Chocolate, but I haven’t seen the movie nor I am interested in seeing it.

    Thank you for the other recommendations, I loved the movie Julie and Julia, but haven’t read the book yet.

    1. I wouldn’t trust my memory of the movie – I saw it when it first came out, and I am routinely known for getting halfway through a book or a movie and realizing I’ve seen it already!

      Thanks for coming by!

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