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The Best Novels about Food and Foodies

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Every so often, we take a break from flipping through cookbooks like they’re novels to pick up actual novels—about food, of course. Not surprisingly, it turns out that you all love it when food and eating play a main role in your fiction selections as well.

This week on the Hotline, Pili Gómez asked for recommendations for novels with foodies as main characters, noting that she’s already a fan of the Comisario Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri and the Detective Carvalho books by Vazquez Montalban. As usual, you all came through with great suggestions—dozens of them:

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Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Uncle Jess says, “Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series takes place in Venice. Besides the occasional banquet or other food event, each book has at least one incredible lunch cooked by his loving wife. And Brunetti is always on the lookout for a good snack. Death in La Fenice is the first of the series, probably available in your library. There is even a cookbook with recipes for all the meals described in the detective stories. Mouthwatering!”

  • Lmkltk suggests the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout. Many others echoed this suggestion, and oldunc adds, "I've tried a number of foodie mysteries, none of which, other than Joan Hesse's Diet to Die For I would really recommend, but the Nero Wolfe books stand alone. Too Many Cooks, which I believe was the second of the series, is my personal favorite, although somewhat non-PC by current standards.”

  • Witloof recommends The Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen.

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  • Shannon Slice offers Kristin Chen’s debut novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners.

Photos by Pamela Dorman Books, Anchor Books
Photos by Vintage Books, Random House
  • Cookbookchick says, “I've enjoyed Diane Mott Davidson's series featuring Colorado caterer/sleuth Goldy Schulz, at least partly because she has a walk-in refrigerator in her home that fuels my kitchen fantasies! Ms. Davidson published an autobiography/cookbook in September that contains most of the recipes from her mystery novels. Because the story and characters develop, over time, I'd suggest starting with book one, Catering to Nobody.”

  • Marcena suggests picking up A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle and Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

  • Burning-ice and pierino both recommend Martin Walker’s books about Bruno, Chief of Police. Maedl loves them too, saying, “His wife, Julia Watson, is a food writer, and her influence is very apparent in the Bruno books. It is a favorite series of mine.”

  • Molly Fuller like Ruth Reichl’s Delicious!.

Photos by Anchor Books, Mariner Books

What are your favorite foodie novels? Tell us in the comments!

Tags: hotline, your burning questions, novels, reading