Julia Child Remembers France

Book review: My Life in France, by Julia Child & Alex Prud’homme (Amazon / Book Depository) In Paris in the 1950s, I had the supreme good fortune to study with a remarkably able group of chefs. From them I learned why good French food is an art, and why it makes such sublime eating: nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way … Continue reading Julia Child Remembers France

“A Young Black Chef” Finds His Place in Fine Dining

Book review: Notes from a Young Black Chef, by Kwame Onwuachi with Joshua David Stein (Amazon / Book Depository) A groove had formed in the linoleum in front of the stove where Mom spent hours cooking. Next to that were four indentations from the little wooden step stool on which I often stood to watch her. Chef Kwame Onwuachi was born to an American mother … Continue reading “A Young Black Chef” Finds His Place in Fine Dining

Culinary and Travel Stories, from Al Dente to Zucchini Blossoms

Book review: The Bread and the Knife, by Dawn Drzal (Amazon / Book Depository) Former cookbook editor Dawn Drzal’s memoir is structured around 26 dishes or ingredients of significance in her life, matched up to the letters of the alphabet. Although the alphabet theme is a bit gimmicky, the writing is anything but. Drzal draws powerful metaphors from the role food has played in her … Continue reading Culinary and Travel Stories, from Al Dente to Zucchini Blossoms

Family Stories and Recipes, From Belarus to Brooklyn

Book review: Savage Feast, by Boris Fishman (Amazon / Book Depository)  Food was so valuable that it was a kind of currency—and it was how you showed love. If, as a person on the cusp of thirty, I wished to find sanity, I had to figure out how to temper this hunger without losing hold of what fed it, how to retain a connection to my past … Continue reading Family Stories and Recipes, From Belarus to Brooklyn

Warm, Funny Kitchen Stories from the Heart

Book review: More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin (Amazon / Book Depository) Despite falling in love with Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen last year, I forced myself to wait before reading its followup volume, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen. I wanted to save the joy for a time when I knew I’d need it. The dark, gloomy days of January were not only … Continue reading Warm, Funny Kitchen Stories from the Heart

Stories of Comfort Food For Cancer

Book review: All the Wild Hungers by Karen Babine (Amazon / Book Depository) Cancer divides – as its very premise, its cells divide, maniacally, so that one rogue cell becomes two becomes a three-pound cabbage-sized tumor. Yet the same is happening inside my sister in a different way, as her child who was once one cell became two cells is becoming a brand new human being we … Continue reading Stories of Comfort Food For Cancer

Kitchen Connections to Grief, Joy, and Growing Up

Book review: Kitchen Yarns, by Ann Hood (Amazon / Book Depository) When I write an essay about food, I am really uncovering something deeper in my life – loss, family, confusion, growing up, growing away from what I knew, returning, grief, joy, and, yes, love. Author Ann Hood is also a Laurie Colwin devotee, and her latest nonfiction essay collection, Kitchen Yarns, is beautifully similar to all … Continue reading Kitchen Connections to Grief, Joy, and Growing Up

Stories from America’s Melting Pot of Cuisine and Culture

Buttermilk Graffiti, by Edward Lee (Amazon / Book Depository) This says a lot about who we are as a culture now; we care about the person behind the recipes. For us, it is important to know as much about the cook as we do about his or her dishes. Cookbooks are living traditions. They reflect back to us who we are, as individuals, as a … Continue reading Stories from America’s Melting Pot of Cuisine and Culture

Heartening Anecdotes of Cooking and Life, Disastrous and Otherwise

Book review: Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin Amazon Originally published 1988, this collection of memoir-centric essays on cooking and life is insightful, funny, surprisingly practical and helpful, and still fresh and relevant thirty years later. Beloved novelist Laurie Colwin loved being in the kitchen, especially cooking for other people. She has an upbeat, happy sense of humor that infuses her stories, often making jokes at … Continue reading Heartening Anecdotes of Cooking and Life, Disastrous and Otherwise

The Healing Powers of Comfort Food

Book review: The Comfort Food Diaries, by Emily Nunn (Amazon / Book Depository) What’s comfort food to you? What do you make or seek out when you’re blue, or need soothing? Is it what your family made when you were small, or something far away from those memories? I thought a lot about my preferred comfort foods while reading this. I found them hard to … Continue reading The Healing Powers of Comfort Food

Food As Love in Any Language

Book review: The Language of Baklava, by Diana Abu-Jaber (Amazon / Book Depository) I’m falling in love with “foodoirs” lately. Those are food-themed memoirs, in case you’re late to the genre, like I was. This one moved me more than I unexpected. Novelist Diana Abu-Jaber was born in America to a Jordanian immigrant father and an American mother. Her family, including two younger sisters, lived in … Continue reading Food As Love in Any Language

Touring and Celebrating America’s History of Immigration, Spice by Spice

Book Review: Eight Flavors, by Sarah Lohman (Amazon / Book Depository) For a crash course in American trade and immigration, read this book. Sarah Lohman is a gastronomist with a deep interest in the flavors and recipes that shaped American cuisine. According to her website, she “recreates historic recipes as a way to make a personal connection with the past.” She begins the book by showing … Continue reading Touring and Celebrating America’s History of Immigration, Spice by Spice