Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nonfiction November: Be the Expert!


I'm SOOO excited about today's prompt for Nonfiction November! It's "Be the Expert or Ask the Expert." I've decided to BE the expert because there is one type of non-fiction I adore above all others. FOODIE NONFICTION! Kim is hosting this week's link-up.

That's right...if it has to do with food or people liking food or cooking it or even complaining about it, I am SO IN.


No list about non-fiction foodie books is complete without Anthony Bourdain. This sarcastic gourmand was the head chef at New York City's Les Halles before he became a TV star and world traveler. Kitchen Confidential is his memoir about the food industry that blew the doors off what it's really like on the kitchen line. While it's a great book, and a wonderful introduction to the personality that is BOURDAIN, I prefer A Cook's Tour, a combination food and travel memoir. I've said it time and again, but Bourdain's reverence for the cultures he experiences are him and his writing at their best. 


It's really difficult to read non-fiction about food and NOT get wound up in France! You won't hear any complaints here...

I just read this one last month, but it's truly one of the best memoirs about food I've ever read. My Life in France by Julia Child was an experience! What a delightful, eye-opening memoir!

Paris My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate by Amy Thomas is a fun, light book all about sweets. If you're as crazy about pastries as I am, this might be the foodie non-fiction for you. 

Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France by Karen Wheeler is not exclusively food-related. She leaves America to fix up an aged house in France, and food happens into the picture. As does a new love life and some kooky friends. This is a fun, light memoir that reads a little like chick lit. 


I can't write this post and NOT include The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost. He writes some of my very favorite books about travel. This one is about his life in the equatorial pacific on an island made of coral. It's "roughing it" at its best. Hilarious and eye-opening. Food comes into the picture, but it's not always a positive for Troost and his family.

And finally, for the serious food reader, The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation by David Kamp, is a who's who of American food. Gourmands and celebrity chefs all get their turn here. It's like a sprawling biography of anyone who matters in American food. 

There you have it! Do you ever read non-fiction about food? Can you add any recommendations to this list? I'd love to have them!









37 comments:

  1. Anthony Bourdain is the writer who convinced me that food writing isn't boring. Admittedly, until his i had read non. But now I am a big fan of food writing and it seems to be a growing category. Thanks Andi!

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    1. Yay! I love hearing good things about Anthony Bourdain. I think Kitchen Confidential was probably the first food writing I read, come to think of it.

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  2. I feel like reading any of these books would make me really hungry! Thanks for sharing your suggestions. :)

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    1. LOL, it's one of the pitfalls, Lindsey.

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  3. I'm not sure that I've ever read a foodie nonfiction before - that wasn't a cookbook anyway. Really want to read the Julie Child memoir, especially after your review of it!

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    1. DUDETTE! You are so missing out. For a newbie, I would say Julia's memoir or Kitchen Confidential (or A Cook's Tour) are the best places to start. :)

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  4. Mary Roach's Gulp is a fascinating if somewhat gross account of the digestive system. Does that count as a foodie book?

    Also, have you read any Michael Pollan books? I own a few and they seem like they'd fit this list, though I haven't read any (yet)... just curious if you had any thoughts.

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    1. Ack! Good call, Kerry. I haven't read that one yet.

      I own Michael Pollan's books but I haven't read them. Story of all our lives.

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  5. Have you watched Mind of a Chef with David Chang? It's narrated by Bourdain and is very interesting. It's available on Netflix.

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    1. I haven't! I just learned YESTERDAY that it's available on Netflix! I can't wait to watch it.

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  6. Nice list! The only one of these I've read is "Kitchen Confidential"--the books you've listed about France all sound great!
    I did a Top Ten posting a couple of weeks ago about my favorite books about food--there are a couple of novels on it, but most of the titles are nonfiction. Here's the link if you'd like to visit--
    http://bookmammalmusings.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/the-tuesday-ten-delicious-books/

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    1. I loved your list! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. How do you not pick up a book called "The Sex Lives of Cannibals"? That sounds amazing. I'm super excited my library system has a copy!

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    1. RIGHT??? All of his books have great titles, but this one is my fave so far.

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  8. Oh man I love me some Anthony Bourdain! I love Kitchen Confidential! And why have I never heard of The Sex Lives of Cannibals? I must add that to my to-read list immediately!

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  9. OMG YES. This is my favorite nonfic genre by far!!! Bourdain's books are what got me into it and I haven't looked back since. You must must must read everything by Michael Pollan, and I'm also a huge fan of Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef. Oh, and Marcus Samuelsson's autobiography (Yes, Chef). Blood, Bones and Butter is the next one on my TBR!

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  10. What a great list! Thanks for putting this together :) I've been wanting to read some foodie non-fiction for a while since it's a part of the genre I haven't read much of, so this will give me a great place to start.

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  11. I love to eat but I do not like cooking. I tend to avoid foodie books because I imagine that they're full of poetic passages on the attributes of fennel. It sounds like I'm probably wrong about that. Maybe I should expand my horizons.

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  12. Ahhhhh Sex Lives of Cannibals is on my TBR list! I'm like Katie. Love eating, but not cooking. I have such a teeny kitchen it's more frustrating than anything else. I don't read a ton of foodie books but I did enjoy Darlene Barnes's Hungry. :)

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  13. I loved My Life in France and Kitchen Confidential… can't wait to check out your other choices!

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  14. Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't think I've read a lot of foodie nonfiction. Strange but true. I really need to read something by Bourdain. My Life in France is another book you've added to my tbr list.

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  15. Confession time! I don't think I've ever read any food writing :O I think it's time to remedy that and you've given me a great place to start.

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  16. Fooooooood! I love food memoirs. I actually just bought Tout Sweet a couple of weeks ago because the ebook was on sale and I couldn't resist. And My Life in France and Paris My Sweet have been on my TBR for a while now! Great list!

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  17. I think Michael read The United States of Arugula and enjoyed it, too! Also Nonfiction November has made me really want to read a book by or about Julia Child.

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  18. I don't cook well. I don't like to cook. It takes too much mess, time, and energy to cook. That being said, I found a new cookbook I'd use just because of the title: The Can't Cookbook, by J. Seinfeld.

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    1. Side note: I enjoy eating...what others cook! Lol And I definitely appreciate the art of it!

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  19. You're such a foodie bookish fan! I really liked The Sex Lives of Cannibals! It was such a unique read, and kind of cool to be able to live in someone else's shoes while still living a totally normal life.

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  20. Okay A Cook's Tour just got bumped to the top of my TBR list. It sounds so good!

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  21. Awesome! I really wanted to participate in this but with finals I just couldn't commit :( But, I'm loving reading everyone else's!

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  22. I love foodie non-fiction. Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver?

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  23. I've seen several rave reviews of My Life In France recently--will have to read that one now! My favorite food books are In Defense of Food and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

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  24. I love reading books about food. My Life in France was a fave for me, too. And, I thought Paris, My Sweet was fun. I'll be putting some of the others on my list!

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  25. YES food non-fiction! I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read Anthony Bourdain's books, even though I'm slightly obsessed with the Food Network. And The Sex Lives of Cannibals sounds like an interesting book! Have you read The Man Who Are Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten? His descriptions of food are droolworthy. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. I don't necessary go out of my way looking for foodie non-fiction yet somehow I find that I read quite a lot of it. Quite a lot of them end up with my cookbooks because of all the recipes and tips!

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  27. Yay! Love this topic. My life in France is up there for me as well. Paris, My Sweet sounds lovely, I'll be adding it to the to-read list. I love how so many foodie books at set in France (my Be the Expert list was French memoirs and they all featured food). I just finished For God, Country and Coca-Cola, which was vaguely foodie, and absolutely fascinating.

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  28. This is my favorite kind of nonfiction, too! I've read a few on your list and am adding a few others to my TBR list. If you haven't read Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamiliton, that's one of my recent favorites, a cooking/writing/restaurant-owning memoir. (I listened to it on audio, one of the few I've liked with the author reading his/her own book.) I have Blue Plate Special to listen to on audio, and really need to get to it soon!

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  29. Oh the Karen Wheeler (Tout Sweet) books are funny and entertaining! I think I still need to read the third one. Highly recommended. cheers

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