We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.
Today: We asked some of our favorite food writers (and other assorted friends) what we should be reading on summer vacation. Here's the first installment of their answers.
If you hadn't already heard, the Food52 staff is taking off this week, closing our computers in favor of books and oceans and bright new places. Before we packed our bags, we went searching for some food-related book recommendations. Here's what a slew of food writers, readers, and eaters had to say:
Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, cookbook authors and lunch eaters at The Canal House:
Two food-related books we're enjoying this summer are Giving Good Weight by John McPhee, especially the essay "Brigade de Cuisine,” and Bento's Sketchbook, by John Berger.
- Poetry: The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink, edited by Kevin Young. Democratic and delicious, untethered to any particular poetic style or school. Bring it to a summer dinner party and let all your guests pick a poem to recite as dessert winds down.
- Fiction: The Epicure's Lament, by Kate Christensen. A brilliantly hilarious novel about a suicidal rogue who loves Montaigne and M.F.K. Fisher and really knows how to cook. Hugo Whittier is one of my all-time favorite antiheroes.
- Nonfiction: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by Anya von Bremzen. Beautifully written -- with great measures of heart and humor -- von Bremzen's memoir-with-recipes is also a surprising and revealing work of history.
Adam Roberts, blogger at The Amateur Gourmet and author of Secrets from the Best Chefs:
I'm actually leaving for summer vacation and the two books that I'm taking are not food related: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (which I've already started and I'm loving); and My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard which doesn't seem like a beach read, but I'm very curious about it (people say it's one of the most important books to come along in a long time), so we'll see.
For food-related summer reads, I'd recommend: Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton, which is probably the best food memoir I've ever read -- funny, revealing, shocking, moving, and highly entertaining; The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher, which is just as sharp as Hamilton's book but pre-dates it by about 50 years; and Feeding A Yen by Calvin Trillin, which was the first food book that I ever read and offered up a master class on balancing heart, humor, and hedonism. Happy reading!
Louisa Shafia, blogger at Lucid Food and author of the Piglet-Winning The New Persian Kitchen:
The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue, by David Sax. Sax is a smart and hilarious writer, as anyone who read his James Beard Award-winning book Save the Deli already knows. Although it’s full of solid research on the science behind food trends, it also looks like a fun beach read.
Saraban: A Chef’s Journey Through Persia, by Greg Malouf and Lucy Malouf. This Australian chef traveled through Iran in style, visiting all of the beautiful places and tasting the highlights. I’d love to read about his adventure to find out what experiences we had in common, and what I need to see the next time I’m in Iran.
David Prior, writer and professional traveler:
Sherry, by Talia Baiocchi. Being a food writer I am really lucky to get advance copies of books from publishers. I was thrilled when I received a copy of [this book] not only because I’ve wanted someone to celebrate this, surely the world’s most underrated wine, but also because she’s done such a beautiful job at demystifying the drink and the magical region of Andalusia. Make mine a manzanilla!
The Land Where Lemons Grow: The Story of Italy and Its Citrus, by Helena Attlee. I’m fascinated by this beautifully evocative book that tells the story of citrus in Italy. Much like they have with tomatoes and peppers, the Italians seem to take something and over time in their inimitable way just make it their own. Sicilian blood oranges, Ligurian cinotto, Amalfi lemons, Calabrian bergamot, cedro, and clementini! Imagine Italy, its landscape or food, without them? Unthinkable.
Lucky Peach and Cherry Bombe. These are my beach mags this year. The edit and art direction of both is so fresh and I find that each one balances the other out. I always end up laughing out loud at Lucky Peach and crushing on someone in Cherry Bombe. It's also fun to see the bylines and faces of so many friends and colleagues in each of their issues.
Luisa Weiss, blogger at The Wednesday Chef and author of My Berlin Kitchen:
For summer holidays, I have Jane Grigson's Good Things with me for re-reading (I'm having a renewed love affair with Grigson) and I brought Ava Chin's Eating Wildly along too.
- Consider the Oyster by MFK Fisher
- The Carnivore's Manifesto by Patrick Martins
- A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
- Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabriel Hamilton
- An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler
- Fresh off the Boat by Eddie Huang
- All Roald Dahl books because he writes about food better than anyone.
Phyllis Grant, Food52 contributor, blogger at dash and bella, handstand enthusiast:
The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink. Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire. Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen. Nora Ephron's Heartburn. And the last one: Frank O'Hara'a Lunch Poems.
What are you packing in your suitcases and backpacks -- or toting with you on the subway? We want to hear all about what you're reading in the comments.