Thanks to two snow days, I’ve had a wonderful five day weekend. I’ve had so much time! Time to clean the apartment, fold the laundry, cook, and read. It’s been wonderful getting to sit around and explore new cookbooks. In fact, this weekend I’ve added three new cookbooks to Ryan and my ever growing book collection – and I’ve been cooking a lot . But,all this time (and cold weather) have made curling up on the couch, with a good book especially pleasurable.
I love all kind of books, not just food books. I like biographies, historical fiction, and fantasy books aimed at adolescents (like Harry Potter and the Hunger Games). But, food writing can be such great fun. Food writing transports me to new places, gives me inspiration for future posts, and pushes me to try something new at restaurants. Food stories make me feel hungry, excited, and eager to jump in the kitchen.
So, for fellow readers out there, I want to share with you 5 food-related books that have had an impact on me. Also, I want to actually, physically, share a book with one of you, through the first-ever cooking is messy giveaway! I’m giving away one copy of Jacques Pepin’s book Essential Pepin. This book is huge with tons of recipes and clear instructions. My favorite part is that it comes with a DVD where Jacques Pepin shows you a variety of techniques, like flipping an omelet and killing a lobster. He’s awesome, adorable, has a great French accent, and is fun to watch. I love this book, and I’m giving it away only because I have two copies. If you want a peak inside, two recipes I’ve made from the book are french onion soup and steak in a spicy soy sauce.
Anyway, to enter for the book all you have to do is write a comment and share with me the title of a book you love. It can be any kind of book, not just a cookbook or food memoir. Unfortunately, this giveaway is open to just to those in the U.S. I will mail the cookbook via US Postal service. The winner will be selected on January 29, randomly using random.org. I will contact the winner via email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place. If only one person enters, then yay, you win!
And now, here’s my list of books I love…
Mariel’s 5 Books to Read:
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. This is an excellent memoir about Mayle and his wife’s move to a small home in Provence. I read this when I was on my gap-year between high school and college and I felt transported. I hadn’t traveled much yet, I couldn’t legally drink wine, and I wasn’t much of an adventurous eater – but I wanted to be and do all of those things. I fell in love with the idea of immersing yourself in a new culture through food. The book is not just about food, but the way Mayle describes his meals and wine makes France came alive in decadent and absorbing detail.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I’m crazy about this book and I recommend it to everyone. Kingsolver and her family spend a year striving to live locally and eat with the seasons. Her husband and oldest daughter also contribute chapters to the book. What I love about the book is that it really got me thinking about how I could incorporate local and seasonal food into my diet. I can’t commit myself to being 100% sustainable, but this book helped me think about what I could do and why it is important. Also I love the recipes! Zucchini chocolate chip cookies! Eggs over chard! And the mozzarella I made was inspired by her recipe. Most importantly, if you’re not interested in eating locally and seasonally don’t worry – this book has a great narrative and can be pretty funny (there’s a great story about how the family tries to force their turkeys to mate).
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I’ll be honest, if you’re not interested in where your food comes from, then this is not the book for you. Foer became a father and asked himself if eating meat was the best choice for his family. He goes on a quest to see what’s going on with our food production. I enjoyed that he talked to all different types of people from large meat producers to renegade activists who try to free baby poultry. Also, it was just fascinating learning about all the different types of food industry people and to compare their very different and strong-held beliefs. The book didn’t turn me into a vegan, but it stuck with me and it has changed some of my grocery shopping habits.
The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway. In New York, where there are tons of amazing restaurants and Erway decided to go a year without them. I read this when I first moved to New York and was a poor grad student so I liked the idea that I could create delicious meals at home. I also loved how it wasn’t just about home cooking. She explored the non-restaurant food scene which is more elaborate, secretive, and cool than I would have thought. Super clubs? Cook-off competitions? Who knew?! It makes the food scene feel exciting and complex. She also has a great blog, noteatingoutinny.com.
Heat by Bill Buford. Buford thrusts himself in the restaurant world, taking on every job he’s allowed to at Mario Batali’s restaurant Babbo. The work is challenging, overwhelming, and seemingly exhilarating. Buford paints a “work hard, play hard” picture for what life is like at Babbo. What’s awesome is the Buford gets so engrossed in the Italian cooking and culture at Babbo that he briefly moves to Tuscany and becomes a butcher’s apprentice. The story is crazy, fast-paced, and a delight.
Don’t forgot, share a book title in the comments and you could win the giveaway.
All book cover pictures in the list are from goodreads.com