IT'S TOMATO WEEK ON FOOD52! CELEBRATE ACCORDINGLY »
🔕 🔔
Loading…

My Basket ()

All questions
46 answers 3030 views
2f4926e2 248b 4c22 a6f7 8f2d888b8488  3 bizcard
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

I just read Jacque Pepin, The Apprentice his life in the kitchen, insightful, interesting I learned so much about what I consider one the most accomplished chefs of our time. I loved it, and as a bonus it contains several of his favorite recipes.

2f4926e2 248b 4c22 a6f7 8f2d888b8488  3 bizcard
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

Another book I just read which I found fascinating is Eat My Words by Janet Theoohano, Reading Womens Lives through the cookbooks they wrote. Really interesting.

2f4926e2 248b 4c22 a6f7 8f2d888b8488  3 bizcard
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

Janet Theophano sorry can't edit and mispelled

0e5c2b73 3f18 46e4 95c9 cbc8af359f65  sadie crop
Diana B

Diana B is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

I also loved Jacques Pepin's memoir, The Apprentice. He's such a nice man and it really comes through in the book. It was especially interesting to discover that his appreciation of all kinds of food came from the privations of World War II.

Cd383ee1 8489 4608 ab42 3f588caf158f  carolyn jones john astin the addams family 1964 1
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 3 years ago

Anthony Bourdain's KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL kind of set the bar for contemporary chef memoir. Gabrielle Hamilton's BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER picked up from there. David Chang's MOMOFUKU can be read as a memoir as well as a cook book. At least I read it that way. I've never seen the word f*** used more times in an actual cookbook.
Meanwhile I'm looking forward to Roy "Kogi Truck" Choi's forthcoming memoir which I think is supposed to be called something like RIDING SHOTGUN IN LA.

E4b7660b f3f6 4873 bd6d 2130a16403fb  img 1088
drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

Blood, bones and Butter-- I agree, a great read. Have you read Cooking for Mr.Latte by Amanda? I love that book. And not on the food topic, but I just read a review of Sonia Sotomayor's memoir, and it sounds really inspiring. http://nyti.ms/VlcaAy

5b7755f4 f84e 4738 be55 06b56e9c2553  dsc 0008 002
em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

I completely agree with all these ideas, including the Sotomayor book (Barbara, did we see the same review?) :)
I also enjoyed Comfort Me With Apples and Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. Heartburn by Nora Ephron is fabulous. Also really liked Pepin's The Apprentice. There are some passages in Under the Tuscan Sun that still make me wheeze with laughter (parts about Italian gesticulations and traffic, for ex; my sister lives in Florence so I know Mayes' anecdotes to be totally true). :)

67544da8 1862 4539 8ec8 2d9dfc2601bb  dsc 0122.nef 1
added over 3 years ago

Loved Cooking for Mr. Latte!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Sorry if I'm repeating but I can't read responses. You MUST read Achatz's Life on the Line and Marcus Samuelsson's Yes, Chef. Also, I recommend Jeffrey steingarten's the man who ate everything, the sorcerer's apprentice, and Gail Simmons' eating with my mouth full. Also, I recommend Ludo LeFevre's Crave cookbook which also serves as a semi-biography. Happy reading! (P.S. whenever looking for good reads, the James Beard awards are always a good place to start as well).

8bbce907 3b5e 4c8c be5c c64e6c780d63  birthday 2012
luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

Manhattan, When I Was Young, by Mary Cantwell
agree with Blood, Bones and Butter and Cooking for Mr. Latte
The Lost Ravioli Recipe of Hoboken by Laura Schenone, a great quest for ravioli and an understanding of family, both personal and cultural, hoping someday to go to Liguria and see the author's family's home land
Walking on Walnuts by Nancy Ring, by a former pastry chef in NYC, also about her family of origin and their lives in the kitchen

092efd1a f34b 461d 89b1 f3e76e0ce940  dsc 0028
added over 3 years ago

So many good reads already mentioned! I must add that "Blood, Bones and Butter" is not only a terrific story, it is so well-written. Ms. Hamilton is such a talented gal -- like Amanda, whose "Cooking for Mr. Latte" is on my most-freqeuntly-referenced shelf. "The Lost Ravioli Recipe of Hoboken" sent me on my own quest -- to learn to make ravioli. (The book includes recipes.) I enjoyed "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," Kathleen Flinn's account of her time at Le Cordon Bleu. And do not miss Tamar Adler's "The Everlasting Meal." I want to read it again and again -- not only for her awesome way with words, but for her thought-provoking approach to food and cooking.

C0d1f1de 4134 43ba 9510 1d7a8caa31f3  scan0004
added over 3 years ago

The old and the new: Samuelsson's book is moving and enlightening. An oldie favorite: Memoirs and Menus, The Confessions of a Culinary Snob, Georges Spunt -- my original copy had disappeared, I replaced it with a used copy found online. And a collection of essays: At Grandmother's Table, edited by Ellen Perry Berkeley. All these suggestions should keep you in reading for a while, and the rest of us too!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

The only thing missing from this great list seems to be our beloved Julia's "My Life In France". I read it once a year.

E7b6597b db6e 4cae b9f3 699b508f4ed3  036
aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

Animal Vegetable Miracle is a favorite - Barbara Kingsolver. Her year as a locavore. Love. It.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

MFK Fisher. She so beautifully paved the way for food writers to come. This is kind of a non sequitur, but Jeannette Walls' remarkable autobiography "The Glass Castle" reminds me of Gabrielle Hamilton's "Blood, Bones & Butter" (loved both). Except Walls' story is not about embarking on a food career but about escaping starvation. Both are such great stories of triumph over adversity. Always looked forward to Amanda's essays in NY Times. Also Pete Wells' "Cooking with Dexter" (stories about food and his young son), especially the one where Dexter learns about animals being slaughtered for food.

Cf72275c fff5 4c3d 91ff b486112ca91a  stringio
Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Nancy is a food writer, historian, and author of many books, her most recent being Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin.

added over 3 years ago

Elizabeth David: She never wrote a proper memoir but her writing about food, even her recipes, are so full of evocative description of a long ago France that it's easy to sense her life story--and her devotion to good food beautifully prepared.
And then Patience Gray: Honey from a Weed is perhaps a forgotten classic but it should be cherished by anyone who loves the Mediterranean, and anyone who loves good writing. Her life, in Greece, Tuscany, Catalonia, and finally coming to rest in southernmost Puglia, was not free from scandal or difficulty but she took such evident delight in every single thing that crossed her path, everything she tasted, everything she grew and cooked and fed to her beloved Norman the sculptor--such delight that she should be a model to us all whenever we're tempted to whine our way through life.
Sorry to go on like this, but this is an important book you should all read and re-read.

549d9fb3 53ef 4170 b68e 8bae2e055be7  dsc 0048b
added over 3 years ago

I love so many that have been mentioned, but to add a few:
While I certainly enjoyed Cooking for Mr. Latte, I really love Amanda Hesser's the Cook and the Gardener which is a lovely account of her time cooking for Anne Willan and her relationship with the gardener on the property as well as the changing of the seasons. I liked Kim Severson's Spoon Fed as well as Kristin Kimball's The Dirty Life. If youi want to get more in to food politics, I recommend anything by Marion Nestle, whose What to Eat I read some years ago. I believe her new book is called Calories. Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland was eye-opening about the conditions for migrant tomato pickers in Central Florida. Tracie McMillan also deals with migrant workers, though in California, in The American Way of Eating, in which she goes undercover picking fruit and vegetables in several different fields, as well as in the produce department at Walmart and as in the kitchen at Applebee's.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
ATL
added over 3 years ago

Laurie Colwin's Home Kitchen and More Home Kitchen.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
ATL
added over 3 years ago

Whoops! I meant Home Cooking and More
Home Cooking!

1097a5b5 1775 4eec a8ea 7421137b65dc  image 2 apples claire sullivan 2
amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

Ditto any/all MFK Fischer, Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin; also Calvin Trillin's Alice Let's Eat; and Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant (about growing up in Egypt as a WWII refugee, living with her Egyptian-Jewish grandparents)...

Edfe409e 4744 406a 98e8 9c239638ad31  img 1965
added over 3 years ago

I don't see mentioned here The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (not so much a memoir but a really good, fascinating read about where food comes from) and A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle.

Cf72275c fff5 4c3d 91ff b486112ca91a  stringio
Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Nancy is a food writer, historian, and author of many books, her most recent being Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin.

added over 3 years ago

I just have to add one more comment: The question asked was specifically about "memoirs" yet many of the answers simply refer to books about food--as LucyS mentions in referencing the Omnivore's Dilemma. Marion Nestle's books, for instance, are most definitely not memoirs by any stretch nor is Barry Estabrook's book about tomatoes. Both admirable writers but I'm curious how readers actually define memoir--is it any book about food in which recipes do not dominate and the "I" figures in? Or is it something more specific? Just askin'.

549d9fb3 53ef 4170 b68e 8bae2e055be7  dsc 0048b
added over 3 years ago

It was I who added Marion Nestle and Barry Estabrook and did so not because I think they're memoirs, but because I thought Antoniajames might like them. I guess I was stretching a bit outside her question.

C45c94a0 2e08 45bf a73c 4235d1b3c4bb  image
added over 3 years ago

Your question makes me want to go to the library! I don't have many suggestions that were published recently. In no particular order, the following are books I recommend; some are memoirs, some autobiographies (and some are compelling non-fiction of a biographical nature): Red Azalea by Anchee Min, Second Nature by Michael Pollan, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, Almost A Woman by Esmeralda Santiago, Chronicles - Volume 1 by Bob Dylan, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden, Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester, and if I remember any more I will post them!
And here are some humorous and entertaining ones: The Year of Eating Dangerously by Tom Parker-Bowles, Bossypants by Tina Fey, nearly all of David Sedaris' books are autobiographical... OK off to the library.

Cef49d72 d554 46db a888 e97e0311e08e  cimg0737
added over 3 years ago

What a great thread. I love so many of the books mentioned here, and others are on my to-read list. Here are a few more books to consider:
Born Round by Frank Bruni: This excellent memoir by the former NY Times food critic, recounts his relationship with food and his struggles with overeating.
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg: Similar in narrative style to Amanda's book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, Wizenberg's wonderful memoir/collection of essays is about her grieving after the death of her father, her finding her love of her life, and her relationship with food and cooking. I love the recipes in this book, especially the Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake, which Molly baked and served at her own wedding.
Heat by Bill Buford: How a frustrated home cook becomes a line cook at Babbo, under the intimidating tutelage of Mario Batali. The author also goes to Italy to learn the art of butchery and how to make authentic pasta. Heat is about the pleasures and sacrifices of what it takes to get real food onto our tables and gives an eye-opening, hilarious account of what it's like to work in the crazy world of a fast-paced high-end restaurant.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

The Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White. I couldn't put it down.

Cd383ee1 8489 4608 ab42 3f588caf158f  carolyn jones john astin the addams family 1964 1
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 3 years ago

"So I nutted him..."

Cd383ee1 8489 4608 ab42 3f588caf158f  carolyn jones john astin the addams family 1964 1
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 3 years ago

And to clarify "nutting"; it's English slang for head butting someone apparently it's how MPW liked to deal with disobedient customers.

1d0d675a 5598 44a5 865e 32730d2a1273  186003 1004761561 1198459 n
added over 3 years ago

I think you might like the books of Angelo Pellegrini. I have The Unprejudiced Palate (his first),Immigrants Return, Lean Years, Happy Years and American Dream. If you can't find them, I can lend them to you.

549d9fb3 53ef 4170 b68e 8bae2e055be7  dsc 0048b
added over 3 years ago

Also, a non-food one is Patti Smith's autobiography. Shw wrote it (no ghostwriter) and it is beautifully written as well as an interested snapshot of a time of her life.

E6f5e079 1551 4472 bc70 dcc35a71edc2  110
added over 3 years ago

I'd like to put in a word for a recent memoir, MEDITERRANEAN SUMMER, by David Shalleck, forward by Mario Batali. David details a season of acquiring product and preparing meals aboard the sailing yacht of an Italian billionaire family. It's a wonderful read.

092efd1a f34b 461d 89b1 f3e76e0ce940  dsc 0028
added over 3 years ago

Marlena di Blasi's "A Thousand Days in Venice" is a good read, as are her subsequent books. Read that one first, though, as her memoirs of her life in Italy married to an Italian man are sequential. Food and cooking are central to her stories. She has also written some cookbooks.

4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

If you haven't read MFK Fisher, you must. She's in a class by herself. My most fave otherwise is Julia Child's "My Life in France."

Other wonderful memoirs are Kim Severson's "Spoon Fed: How 8 Cooks Saved My Life," Bill Buford's "Heat," Kathleen Flinn's "The Sharper the Knife the Less You Cry."

Cef49d72 d554 46db a888 e97e0311e08e  cimg0737
added over 3 years ago

I must add one more engrossing memoir to this thread that I haven't seen mentioned yet: French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon, which depicts a North American young family's fascinating food education when they move to France.

092efd1a f34b 461d 89b1 f3e76e0ce940  dsc 0028
added over 3 years ago

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. Wonderfully evocative, laugh-out-loud funny, and some great recipes, too.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Love his recipes!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Tasting Table just recommended the memoir, Fresh off the boat. Definitely something different. Again, if you have to narrow it down to three, I would say Life on the Line, Yes Chef, and Eating with my mouth full. (I liked Nigel Slater's toast too, but his cookbooks/gardening books are even better.)

25438297 7c5f 449f 85c8 6d14e78bbcc4  susan.streit
boozeandsusan

Susan is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added over 3 years ago

MFK Fisher! So much to choose from. Start with The Art of Eating, as it includes five of her best works, "Serve it Forth," "Consider the Oyster," "How to Cook a Wolf," "The Gastronomical Me" and "An Alphabet for Gourmets.

4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

just thought of another whose writing on food and life I find interesting: James Villas. And Craig Claiborne's memoir, "A Feast Made for Laughter" is really wonderful for both reading and cooking.

F8c5465c 5952 47d4 9558 8116c099e439  dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

I started Bill Buford's Heat a few years ago; about halfway through when he'd just about convinced me of his dedication to the Mario Batali way of cooking and pronounced himself having done something with, I believe, pork as, "I was now an expert," I literally clapped the book shut and threw it in the trash. I don't know a single true chef who describes him- or herself as an expert at anything. Bill Buford is no George Plimpton. Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones, and Butter is a masterpiece. What an odd life she has had. I don't plan to see the movie. Kathleen Flinn's book The Sharper the Knife, The Less You Cry made me scream every time she mentioned preparing puff pastry by first proofing the yeast; it is better read as a cautionary tale of renting and cooking in tiny apartments in Paris. Nigel Slater's books are as riveting as period-piece novels, and I just started Marcus Samuelsson's Yes, Chef. What an interesting life he's had.

549d9fb3 53ef 4170 b68e 8bae2e055be7  dsc 0048b
added over 3 years ago

though her book doesn't come out until March, look out for Elissa Altman's Poor Man's Feast. She is a terrific writer with an interesting point of view. In the meantime, check out her blog of the same name.

720c1c6d 40ca 459b 86c8 325b3c8b54bf  image
added over 3 years ago

The writings of MFK Fisher is a must. As it's been mentioned so many times here, she set the standard of what food writing can be. Her stories still makes me cry.

For somthing a litte off the beaten path - Serve the People: a Stir-Fried Journey Through Today's China by Jen Lin-Liu and Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste by Anyn Halliday are great, quick reads that makes you laugh out loud.

For a change of pace - The Settler's Cookbook by Yasmine Alibhai is a great read, but one of my favorite books of all time, not just becasue she's Canadian, is the little known but beautifully written Tea and Pomegranates by Nazeen Sheikh. It recalls her childhood and early adulthood in Kashmir, with a number of unusual (and apparently rarely written down) Mughal recipes.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

As Always, Julia - traces the correspondence between Julia and her friend Avis. Anything by Laurie Colwin, The Opinionated Palate, by Barbara Kafka. I also find that Nigel Slater's books are so full of his life, views and ideas - very charming.