Food Memoirs

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 – very intermittent in my homework!

The 50 Best Food Memoirs chosen by Richard Davies on

Delights and Prejudices – James Beard

Blood, Bones and Butter – Gabrielle Hamilton – I absolutely LOVED this

Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain – I channeled Anthony when I made Vincent Price’s Broiled Trout With Cucumber Salad

The Art of Eating – MFK Fisher – apologies to all the fans but I can’t get on with MFK

The Table Comes First – Adam Copnik – started but abandoned

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 – love the Slater

Madhur Jaffrey – Climbing the Mango Trees – started but left at my mum’s house, must get back to it, dying to get to the movie star bit!

A Pig in Provence – Georgeanne Brennan

Tender at the Bone – Ruth Reichl

Between Meals – A.J. Liebling

The Man Who Ate Everything – Jeffrey Steingarten

My Life in France – Julia Child – my Vincent Price Baked Ham in a Common Crust was of a perfection historique

Eating With the Pilgrims – Calvin Trillin

The Devil in the Kitchen – Marco Pierre White

Untangling My Chopsticks – Victoria Abbot Riccardi

Julie and Julia – Julie Powell (for me, the book that started it all in 2006)

A Tiger in the Kitchen – Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

The Feast Nearby – Robin Mather

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver

Home Cooking – Laurie Colwin (the start of a friendship with Kristen via Orlando)

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

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 FoodAnna del Conte

Eating Together – Lillian Hellman – this was a peach, really enjoyed this.

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.

I Hate to Cook – Peg Bracken – I channeled Peg when throwing out some leftover food.  She speaks so much sense!

Eating for England – Nigel Slater – reading this made me crave rice pudding

Heartburn – Nora Ephron – I turned to Nora when puzzled by Angela Lansbury’s vinaigrette ratios…

A Table in the Tarn – Orlando Murrin – I learned about the importance of Bake O Glide and fantasised about staying at Orlando’s boutique B&B in France as I read this book.

Tasting Home, Coming of Age in the Kitchen – Judith Newton – read ages ago, remember enjoying it

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 – laughed out loud at some of this

Saucepans & The Single Girl – Jinx Morgan and Judy Perry – as per entry above

The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour – Jenny Lindford

Much Depends On Dinner – Margaret Visser – worth persevering with I think, unusual but fascinating

The Settler’s Cookbook – Yasmin Alibhai Brown – I really loved this one

How The British Fell in Love With Food – compiled by Lewis Esson

Eat Me – Food Philosophy – Kenny Shopsin – utterly bonkers and brilliant

Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel

The Pleasures of Cooking for One – Judith Jones reinforced my belief that it’s worth getting lots of pots and pans dirty for a lovely singletons dinner

The Tenth Muse – Judith Jones

Keep Calm and Fanny On – Kevin Geddes – I loved this book so much!  Highly recommended as a Christmas gift or a gift for any time at all.  Fascinating and compassionately written.

A Foodie Afloat – 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 – Jenni Ferrari-Adler

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir – Ruth Reichl

A Half Baked Idea – Olivia Potts

The Comfort Food Diaries – Emily Nunn

Taste – My Life Through Food – Stanley Tucci – love this with a passion and am cooking my way through it with Battenburgbelle. #tuccitime

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