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!

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