food writing!

surprise! i'm going to write about reading + writing today. reading + food writing.

have i ever mentioned how much i love food writing? i devour it (pun intended), regardless of what the book cover looks like, believe it or not. (heh.) laurie colwin and ruth reichl are some of my favorite ladies ever. colwin's food writing is full of wit and wry humor. she fearlessly writes about foods both humble (potato salad) and weird (black cake). in one of my favorite essays of hers, "alone in the kitchen with an eggplant," she talks about failed dinner parties in her shoebox apartment, and a date who makes her "jellied veal and a strange pallid ring that quivered and glowed with a faintly purplish light." (this was later revealed to be a cold almond shape. wow.)


meanwhile, ruth reichl's elegant, intimate accounts of her career as a food critic and editor are honest and romantic, full of details about meals eaten in paris and sandwiches of pastrami + mustard eaten as a restless young boarding school student. her book comfort me with apples was my first encounter with food writing. i think i read that book about 50 times before i felt ready to move on. it's exquisite.

i just finished reading cleaving, by julie powell. i guess this could be called food writing, since she does teach the reader a fair amount about meats + butchery, but it's really more confessional than food-related. it's one of those books that i read kind of guiltily, because the story (which involves cheating spouses) felt selfish and i felt voyeuristic reading it. it helps that powell gives the reader a respite from her adulterous adventures by including her experiences as an apprentice at a butcher shop. still, this book is memoir first, butcher lesson second.

now: you should know that ruth reichl also tells a tale of an affair in her books. yet somehow, perhaps since her life + work were absolutely rooted in food, and because she was a writer first, reichl's stories are sensuous + rich, with less of an edge to them; she's an artist, painting with gentle, handpicked words, whereas powell's starkly honest, if a bit self-indulgent account has a blunt edge indeed. different personalities, i suppose. and very different lives.
*note: i wrote this before i saw all the reviews in which cleaving is completely panned... just so you know.

now i'm reading anthony bourdain's medium raw and his writing has an edge too, but one honed with experience, and i'm really looking forward to reading more. also on my list: gabrielle hamilton's blood, bones and butter. oh my gosh. exciting. maybe i should move to new york city and become a waitress, and then break into the culinary scene. (want to read about that? try phoebe damrosch's service included. she was a captain at thomas keller's per se in nyc, and she proves waiting tables to be an art form, as it is in europe.)

well my dears, to wrap up my rambling, allow me to recommend a few [more] titles to you. in case your belly is ever craving some tasty morsels, or you are ever in need of some company, these are always there for you...! (you have my official bookgirl guarantee.)

1  //  2  //  3
oh i hope you go check those out. you won't be sorry.

have a wonderful friday!

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  1. Ah, I read the Laurie Colwin book and really enjoyed it--I always find that it is almost as relaxing to read about food preparation as it is to actually prepare it myself.

  2. i think so too. particularly when the writing is full of warmth + wit! and colwin's writing glows with wit, doesn't it?

  3. Thanks for the suggestions! I've been really into food writing lately as well. While on vacation I read 'Bento Box in the Heartland' a memoir by Linda Furiya, chronicling her life growing up in a Japanese household in the Midwest. I found it to be just lovely, if not always perfectly edited. Lucy just stayed over at my apartment this week and she was also reading a food memoir which I can't remember the name of but it sounded quite good. It's funny how we are all reading similar things at the same time :)

  4. oh i love the sound of the furiya book! we are all just right on the edge with our food writing, aren't we. :) XO to you!


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