Summer Reading Recommendations from Food Writers, Part 2

August 29, 2014

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. Check out the first and second installments, then keep going! There are more books ahead.

This week, we're getting other people to tell us what to read, which is one of the best parts of being on vacation. Take a look at the titles that some of our favorite food writers (and readers, and eaters) suggested we pack in our bags this summer:

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Vintage Cookbooks on Food52

Melissa Clark, cookbook author and New York Times columnist:
Honestly the answer is NONE. On vacation, it's all about reading fiction. As much as I love food writing books, they keep me connected to work. For me, vacation should be an escape, and I want to read something that pulls me out of my regular life. However if I had to pick something, I'd pick Betty Fussell's wonderful memoir, My Kitchen Wars.

Celia Sack, owner of San Francisco’s Omnivore Books:
The United States of Arugula -- the People Magazine of America's fancy food history. A fun and fast-paced read that goes down easy, like a tub of buttered popcorn.

My Life in France by Julia Child. Kind without being overly sentimental, smart and witty without asshole bravado. A wonderful memoir of Child's early days, pre-television sensation.

And Cherry Bombe Magazine, for in-depth profiles of women in the food industry

Four Fish  An Everlasting Meal

Eugenia Bone, cookbook author and founder of
Jim Harrison’s The Raw and the Cooked. Harrison’s excessive, hilarious, and authentically heartfelt prose is about a lot more than food. If I weren’t already a food journalist, his work would inspire me to be one. Actually, his work inspires me to be a better writer.

Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. He really captures the sweep and momentum of a well-run kitchen, but the naughty scenes are the most fun to read. Sex on the salad station. Ah, to be young and in the restaurant business again.

Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish. Well-written, well-researched, food J at its best and most purposeful.  

Rob Dunn’s The Wild Life of Our Bodies. If we are going to talk about food, I think we should also talk about gut microbes. Wow, what a revelation to read Dunn’s lively, interesting book about the parasitic and commensalistic critters that make us who we are: an ecosystem.

Is it tacky to recommend Mycophilia? Okay, so I wrote it in 2011, but many food people don’t understand what mushrooms are, how their biology informs their preparation for the table, and how important fungi are to the healthy functioning of all systems on the planet. Really. Plus there is a really kooky subculture of mushroom hunters in this country. 

Michael Ruhlman, prolific cookbook writer and hater of round wooden spoons:
I spent several days on a beach in Okracoke, NC a few years back, thoroughly engrossed in Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal. Highly recommend.

More currently I might suggest the Carnivore's Manifesto, by Patrick Martins, on eating meat (responsibly), or Caffeinated, about one of my favorite drugs by an old high school pal, the Maine-based journalist Murray Carpenter. Of course, M.F.K. Fisher is always high on my list of recommendations.

Julia Turshen, cookbook writer, radio host, and Food52 contributor emeritus:
The first title that comes to mind is Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal. It's everything old and new all at once, the perfect summer read.

Gourmet Rhapsody  A Homemade Life

Brette Warshaw, managing editor of Lucky Peach, lover of blondies, and Food52 Editor Emeritus:

Matthew Amster-Burton, author of books such as Pretty Good Number One and cohost of the Spilled Milk podcast:
The Soul of a Chef, by Michael Ruhlman. Reads like a thriller, especially the section about the Certified Master Chef exam.

The Importance of Lunch, by John Allemang. I'm an evangelist for this quirky Canadian book of food essays. It's funny, warm, clever, and helps me remember not to take life or food too seriously.

Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg. A totally biased pick, but I really think I would choose this even if Molly and I weren't good friends and colleagues.

Any volume of Oishinbo. A Japanese comic series (with many installments available in English) about a cantankerous newspaper food writer and his friends and colleagues, eating their way through Japan.

On the Noodle Road, by Jen Lin-Liu. An odyssey through Asia in search of the birthplace of noodles, with many delicious recipes along the way.

On the Noodle Road  Blue Plate Special

Kerry Diamond, cofounder of Cherry Bombe and co-owner of Brooklyn’s Nightingale Nine, Wilma Jean, and Smith Canteen:
I'm reading Kate Christensen's Blue Plate Special!

Allison Robicelli, baker, cookbook author, and avid tweeter:
I've been reading Cookwise and Bakewise again -- I try to read them at least once a year. It's review -- I like to stay on top if my game, and relearn any concepts I've forgotten or haven't used in a while. Fall is a big season for us creating new recipes, so a late summer refresher on technical aspects of the job helps out a lot.  

Aside from that, I've had my head in my vintage collection. I collect cookbooks, and have a huge fondness for anything written before 1950. My current favorite is one my staff bought me for my birthday: "The Glamor Girl Cookbook" from 1934. It's a thick hardcover book that was self-published by an aspiring actress who was ALSO a psychic. It's magical. 

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.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull