Inspired by the lovely Graham, who I sat next to at a dinner party once, I have devised my own evening class. He wanted to study the history of Edinburgh but couldn’t find a course, so he made himself a reading list and got on with it himself. I am doing the same.
One day, in the distant future, I plan to write a memoir about how old movie stars taught me to cook, although memoir does sound rather grand for the thing I might write. I have set myself a task of getting stuck into food memoirs (and food histories and other food-centered books) in order to learn from those who really know how to write this stuff.
These recommendations have come from various sources and when I have read each book, I will link to an appropriate blog post. I’m finding that what I read sometimes inspires my choice of what to cook and how to cook it. I won’t be reviewing the books as I am crap at reviewing books, but I might have something pithy to say about them. Maybe.
Having this list here is a good way of my recording my process, but if it is an inspiration to anyone else in the process, fabulous.
I wonder how long it will take me to get through them all? Especially when people keep suggesting new ones! I’m all ears for recommendations though so do let me know via the Contact Page if you have favourites that aren’t on my list.
I began my night study in earnest in September 2018.
The 50 Best Food Memoirs chosen by Richard Davies on abebooks.com
Delights and Prejudices – James Beard
Blood, Bones and Butter – Gabrielle Hamilton
The Art of Eating – MFK Fisher
The Table Comes First – Adam Copnik
An Omelette and a Glass of Wine – Elizabeth David – I couldn’t make it all the way through this, nor through the whole of Is There a Nutmeg in the House, but I did like ED’s thoughts about a tablespoon of tunny fish.
Heat – Bill Buford
Toast – Nigel Slater
Madhur Jaffrey – Climbing the Mango Trees
A Pig in Provence – Georgeanne Brennan
Tender at the Bone – Ruth Reichl
Between Meals – A.J. Liebling
The Man Who Ate Everything – Jeffrey Steingarten
Eating With the Pilgrims – Calvin Trillin
The Devil in the Kitchen – Marco Pierre White
Untangling My Chopsticks – Victoria Abbot Riccardi
A Tiger in the Kitchen – Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
The Feast Nearby – Robin Mather
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver
Born Round – Frank Bruni
Honey From a Weed – Patience Gray
The Gastronomy of Marriage – Michelle Maisto
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles – Jennifer B Lee
The Unprejudiced Palate – Angelo Pellegrini
The Supper of the Lamb – Robert Farrar Capon
The Apprentice – Jacques Pepin
Trail of Crumbs – Kim Sunee
Four Kitchens – Lauren Shockey
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry – Kathleen Flinn
A Homemade Life – Molly Wizenberg
The Raw and the Cooked – Jim Harrison
Spilling the Beans – Clarissa Dickson Wright
Yes, Chef – Marcus Samuelsson
52 Loaves – William Alexander
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti – Guilia Melucci
The Sweet Life in Paris – David Lebovitz
Shucked – Erin Byers Murray
As They Were – M.F.K. Fisher
Blue Trout and Black Truffles – Joseph Wechsberg
Living in a Foreign Language – Michael Tucker
Eating for Britain – Simon Majumdar
Save the Deli – David Sax
My Kitchen Wars – Betty Fussell
My Life From Scratch – Gesine Bullock-Prado
Mostly True – Molly O’Neill
Tom Parker Bowles – The Year of Eating Dangerously
The 100-Mile Diet – JB MacKinnon & Alisa Smith
Additional suggestions from the Guild of Food Writers
A Sprig of Dill – Sanda Nitesco
Ellis Island Immigrant Cookbook – Tom Bernardin
Comfort Me with Apples – Ruth Reichl
One Souffle at a Time – Anne Willan
The Oscar Tscherky memoir about the Ritz
Head waiter at Delmonicos ?
Cuisine Of The Sun: Classical Dishes from Nice and France – Mireille Johnston
Ant Egg Soup – Natacha Du Pont De Bie
Food in England – Dorothy Hartley
Food Rules – Michal Pollan
What to Eat – Hattie Ellis
The Food and Cooking of Eastern Europe – Lesley Chamberlain
Risotto with Nettles: A Memoir with Food – Anna del Conte
Eating Together – Lillian Hellman
Coming To My Senses: The Making of a Contemporary Cook – Alice Waters
Roast Chicken and Other Stories – Simon Hopkinson
Books I have already read but want to read again, books people have given me on loan, books on my wishlist and books that seem to have appeared on my bookshelf as if by magic… Not all exactly memoirs, but deffo foodie books.
Tasting Home, Coming of Age in the Kitchen – Judith Newton
Curry, a Tale of Cooks and Conquerers – Lizzie Collingham – eating haggis in an Indian restaurant and hearing a lecture by Lizzie prompted me to buy this book for Mr R. We have both read it and both know a LOT about the history of curry as a result.
Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl: A Memoir of Food, Family, Film & Fashion – Kay Plunkett-Hogge
Saucepans & The Single Girl – Jinx Morgan and Judy Perry
The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour – Jenny Lindford
Much Depends On Dinner – Margaret Visser
The Settler’s Cookbook – Yasmin Alibhai Brown
How The British Fell in Love With Food – compiled by Lewis Esson
Eat Me – Food Philosophy – Kenny Shopsin
Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
The Tenth Muse – Judith Jones
Keep Calm and Fanny On – Kevin Geddes
Barges & Bread – Di Murrell
Food writers and memoirists given a namecheck by Judith Newton not covered above – Frances Mayes, Jeannette Ferrary, Kim Severson and Janet Flammang.
Recommendations found on travels around the internet
The $64 Tomato – William Alexander
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
A Half Baked Idea – Olivia Potts