Monday, June 07, 2010

Eating My Way Through Reading

I've always been a fan of foodie books, most especially any memoir involving food. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kinsolver comes to mind, as well as the recently read, Confections of a Closet Master Baker, by Gesine Bullock-Prado.

There's something endlessly comforting about books and there's something endlessly comforting about food. That's probably why I'm pretty smart and pretty "fluffy"; I find the most intimate, gentle moments involve one or both of these favorite things. We talk about food a lot in my house. Chuck was a chef for ten years, and we're both self-proclaimed foodies. There's nothing we won't try. Likewise, I like to think of myself as a pretty fearless reader. There's certainly not much I won't (or haven't) try in that arena.

I suppose with all of the change afoot in my life lately, I'm deeply wanting comfort. Our lives seemingly revolve around food as we move our habits toward cooking at home almost exclusively (eating out is the devil!), moving our eating habits further toward the healthy, and we're making a concerted effort to grow some food and buy locally. I also find I'm having to deliberately carve out moments to read. In the early morning while Greyson is napping, at work when the office and tutoring hours are slow. As a result of this daily campaign for comfort, I've turned overwhelmingly to foodie books. Here's what's "peppering" my shelves. (I know, I'm shameless. Couldn't help myself.)

I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few years ago, and it quickly jumped to my list of all-time favorites. While most "normal" people can't take a year to grow all of their own food and raise their own meat, I found it an inspiring idea which I can incorporate into my own life on a small scale. See my "Sub'Herb'an Gardener post! I also learned oodles about seasonal eating, heirloom seeds, the vast amount of petroleum products eaten up by the food industry. I felt it made me a more knowledgeable, well-rounded consumer in general, and it certainly made me a much more ambitious and thoughtful eater.

You'll probably remember, I just finished Sarah Addison Allen's The Girl Who Chased the Moon a few weeks ago. I charged through it and loved every second. Like Addison's other books, food certainly plays a big role. One of the main characters, Julia, owns a NC barbecue restaurant, and if you know anything about North Carolina, they are passionate (almost as much as Texans) about barbecue. Likewise, the main character is a baker, and her cakes made my mouth water the whole time I was reading. The writing in this one also nourished my underwatered reading soul. It was pure bliss.

Finally, I'm reading The School of Essential Ingredients now. Well, I've dipped into it, but I have another book or two to finish first. So far I know it's about a woman who's teaching a cooking class, and I'm very much looking forward to meeting her students and reading more about their food.

Like any good obsessive reader, I also have a laundry list of books I want want want!

I stumbled upon these yummies from my weekly browsing in Barnes and Noble, as well as my blog reading. I'm particularly excited about The Backyard Homestead: Producing All the Food You Need on 1/4 Acre! by Carleen Madigan. I don't even have 1/4 of an acre in this city, but I'm excited by the idea of this book. As so many city dwellers know, if you're passionate about eating locally and growing your own, you have to maximize the space you have, even if it's minute. That's what we're doing, and I hope to be inspired by this book. It just came in on hold for me, so I'm off to pick it up at the library at 2:00.

Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg, by Michal Perry, seems to be buzzing quite a bit lately. I've read a number of reviews, and while many assume it'll be another Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, it definitely seems to have its own unique flavor.

Finally, The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentleman Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. Someone used to be a drag queen? I love drag queens and farming, so it sounds like a winner. I read a review or two of this one as well, and I can't get my hands on it fast enough.

There you have it...the books I've been reading, and the ones I see on my immediate horizon. If you have any additional recommendations involving food--fiction or non--please send them my way!


  1. I'm looking forward to reading Coop at some point, too. What about The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake? I have that one on order, since it sounds a bit like Sarah Addison Allen's books.

  2. Mmmm, I love reading food books! I can't wait to hear what you think of the ones you're currently reading. I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle awhile back and really enjoyed it. I even got to hear Barbara Kingsolver read excerpts from it before it came out :) She was wonderful, of course!

  3. I loved Kingsolver's book The Poisonwood Bible and have heard wonderful things about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I've read Sarah Addison Allen's previous two books and loved them and need need to get my hands on this newest one. I also have Bauermeister's book in some box around here and have been meaning to read it. I love your collection, thanks!

  4. I really want to read Animal, Vegetable Miracle. I also want to read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, if only because I love the title. I hope to reserve some time for reading about food this summer. It seems such an important subject and I really haven't read a lot about it.

  5. I really want to read Coop. I've been hearing a lot about it on other sites as well.

  6. I've also read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and can recommend it. The Backyard Homestead is good too. Have you seen The Urban Homestead by kelly Coyne? another one that's not bad.

  7. I'm not very big on foodie books probably because I don't cook. I think I have this mental block that I just won't enjoy the books. One of these days though I do want to read the Kingsolver book. I can imagine that one is great!

  8. Lots more good foodie books, delicious!

    I'm starting to think there should be a Coop read-a-long later this summer, since a bajillion people want to read that book. Or maybe just you, me, and Softdrink :)

  9. How fun :) I read a little of THE SCHOOL; I'll be interested to know what you think of the rest. I think my copy just got lost or something!

  10. The Backyard Homestead is awesome!! I was flipping through it the other day and it made me want to go find a 1/4 acre immediately and plant plant plant :p Coop sounds awesome too! I've been wanting it ever since Heather reviewed it and now I'm seeing stuff pop up everywhere. And you know how much I love AVM! And I seriously need to read some Allen! Loved this post Andi :D

    Oh, and I left you a recipe for Garlic Fire Spray on my Backyard Produce Section post in the comments which may help you with your bugs ;) Only, I need to make a correction..I think I said three CLOVES of garlic and it actually should be three whole HEADS of garlic!!

  11. The Backyard Homestead sounds really helpful. :) I can't say I seek out foodie-related books, because I have so many ethical things wrapped in food it's hard for me to enjoy them. But Food Matters by Mark Bittman is awesome! And my latest cookbook from the library is a vegan, gluten-free one, The Flying Apron, that I totally want to own. :D

  12. Emily, you're so darn luck to have gotten to hear Kingsolver read from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle! I'm positively green with envy, but of course in a supportive, book buddy way. :D

    Thanks, Amanda! You have some great reading ahead of you once you can get it all unpacked. Enjoy!

    Iris, I soooo want to read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I was an inkling away from ordering it on Nook but the e-book price went up, I got frustrated, and I haven't done it yet. Maybe I'll get over the guilt and grab it. Or hopefully my library will order it.

    Me too, Kathleen. I can't wait to get to it.

    Melanie, I haven't seen The Urban Homestead, but I want it already! Thanks for the tip.

    Iliana, I'm trying to decide if I would enjoy food books if I didn't cook, and I like to eat so much that I *think* I still would. lol Definitely try Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and let me know what you think.

    Kim, that's a GREAT IDEA! Someone should organize it. Shall I? Shall you? Shall we??

    Marie, I'm definitely going to have to renew The School of Essential Ingredients from my library. I'm enjoying it, but I've had to lay it aside for some other books to finish first.

    Thanks for the spray recipe, Chris! And holy crap re: three heads of garlic. No wonder it's called fire spray! And what I thought were slugs turned out to be a rabbit. Everyone together now: "Awwww!" I dug up the basil and Chuck put it all in a pot. lol

    I'll definitely check out Food Matters, Eva! I think I've heard of it, but I'm not sure I remember its particular angle. Thanks for the rec! Enjoy your cookbook, too. Love the title.

  13. All of the cakes in The Girl Who Chased The Moon definitely sent me a-salivatin'! Allen's The Sugar Queen had my stomach in perpetual hunger pains the whole time, too. So much goodness.

    Have you read Kate Jacobs' Comfort Food? I have it in my bookcase, but haven't been able to crack it open just yet.

  14. Some good ones here. Love the list.


Thanks for taking the time to comment! Blogger has been a beast lately, so I hope you do not have any troubles leaving your thoughts.

Images by Freepik