(Not Just) Food Books
Updated for 2017: Some of my current favorite cookbooks, food-related books and other perennial faves. Happy reading!
I just returned from a trip to Mexico! These are some of the best books I've found written for Americans who want to learn to cook Mexican food:
Food is culture (as they say at the Museum of Food and Drink). These are some great books that came out this year about the intersection of food and cultural heritage in this country. I can't wait to dig into each of them in the coming year:
A memoir from Michael Twitty, a culinary historian and blogger, based on his experiences exploring his own African-American and Jewish family tree in the American south.
A self-described "white son of the south" writes about the complicated culinary and cultural history of the changing southern US.
Chef Sean Sherman explores the indigenous foods of America's first people, to re-establish the role of native foods in American cuisine.
This is like no other cookbook you've ever read. Quirky and hilarious, with really unique sandwich ideas.
We visited Chef Tyler Kord's No. 7 Sub shop in NYC this summer in my Culinary Adventure Summer Camp! He couldn't have been more welcoming to our group, or more generous with his time.
A year ago, my 12 year-old son declared "I'm tired of sandwiches!" so I bought this book for both of us. This book is part food rant, part confessional and part recipe book. It's creative, irreverent, somewhat inappropriate, totally hilarious and brilliantly written. A great read for anyone 12 and up (if you don't mind a few curse words and drinking references here and there).
For anyone looking for inspiration around cooking with vegetables:
Great ideas for using every part of the plant, with beautiful photography guaranteed to make even the most reluctant veggie-eater fall in love with eating plants.
A useful how-to for anyone who wants to get more comfortable preparing veggies of every kind.
Creative cooking with vegetables, with gorgeous photography.
And speaking of Ottolenghi...
His latest book, written with Helen Goh, takes things in a sweeter direction, still with his creative approach to cooking. I haven't gotten this one yet, but I can't wait to work my way through it in the coming year!
Perennial favorites for anyone who wants to understand their food and where it comes from:
The book that inspired my Mostly Plants recipe series! Read my short synopsis of the book. Perfect book for anyone who wants to understand, once and for all, what the heck science actually tells us (and doesn't) about what we should eat! If you're ready to move past fads and buzzwords and hype to eat real food, this is the book for you.
Pollan's original book about the modern food system.
A version of the classic written for younger eaters.
Pollan's latest book talks about how the methods of cooking make us who we are.
Some great resources for anyone who wants to learn to be a better cook:
Weighing in at who-knows-how-many-pounds, this is a great resource for everyone who wants to understand what really works in the kitchen, and why.
How these four ingredients can take your cooking to the next level.
A chef and a perfumer collaborate on a guide to flavor.
The most recent addition to the "Everything" series - I just bought this book and can't wait to work my way through it! In true Mark Bittman style, it's filled with charts and explanations to help home cooks understand how baking works and why, and how to improvise once you understand the basics.
A modern classic. This belongs on the bookshelf of everyone learning to cook! Includes nearly everything the average American wants to know how to make, with lots of ideas for variations on each theme.
The vegetarian version of How To Cook Everything, with everything you need to know to cook with tofu, tempeh, seitan, and countless fruits, veggies, beans and grains.
For parents who want to raise adventurous eaters:
An interesting take on how adults can influence the eating habits and preferences of children. Lots of food for thought (so to speak).
I read this as part of my research into food preferences prior to my Raising An Adventurous Eater event at the Nutley Farmer's Market in September 2016. A solid, research-based work to explain where food preferences come from, how much is nature vs. nurture and culturally driven, what parents can and should do to influence their kids' eating behaviors, and what adults can do to change their own eating habits.
(We've also been enjoying the Netflix series based on the books, and looking forward to Season 2 in 2018!)
If you're trying to decide if the book series is right for your children, you can read my parent-to-parent review here.
Note: If you are the type of person who likes to read books about pleasant people frolicking happily together, you would be better off reading some other series, such as the Congressional Record.
And speaking of Lemony Snicket...
The heartwarming tale of a little latke, lost and alone in a world gone mad with Christmas. A great read for anyone who celebrates Hanukkah, or who wants to know what it would be like to live life as a latke. Or who is perhaps hungry.
The tale of a lump of coal who can think, talk and move itself around. At Christmastime, no less, when the world is full of miracles that always seem to happen to other people.