Food Books on food

Whilst I am not completely averse to the glossy food porn that seems to accompany any restaurant launch, tv series or book contract granted to a chef who has run a successful restaurant, I do miss books which really encourage gastronomic understanding.

I shall be re-reading Patience Gray's Honey from a Weed by the pool in Tuscany and plan to re-read one of Alan Davidson's books accompanied by a my own airplane picnic next time I am on a long haul flight as an antidote to the meals and endless Hollywood blockbusters that are normally forced upon one.

I wonder if anyone else can recommend such books that lift the spirit as an alternative to the current lists of "holiday reading".
 
I'm sure you know Matthew Fort's 'Eating up Italy' and William Black's 'Al Dente' on the same subject. Edward Behr's 'The food and wine of France' is very enjoyable though overlaps quite a lot with '50 foods'. Jonathan Meades 'Incest and morris dancing' is now a portrait of an era as much as anything but of course very enjoyable, A J Liebling's various works are terrific and RW Apple's 'Far flung and well fed' quite fun. I think most of the best are actually books with recipes, though, I think of 'La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange' and 'Popes, peasants and shepherds' by Oretta Zanini de Vita on Roman cooking, 'Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju and Tsuifeng Lin, 'Musings of a Chinese Gourmet' by Dr. F.T Cheng(you might have to borrow mine), Simon Hopkinson's books, Paula Wolfert's exhaustive and magnificent works, Fuchsia Dunlop's 'Shark's fin and Sichuan pepper', 'When French women cook' by Julia Child's rival Madeline Kamman.The list is almost endless really-and Patience Gray'previous volume ' Plats Du Jour' has a unique charm.
 
Wot, Tom, no Elizabeth David, no Edouard de Pomiane? Two writers who certainly lift the spirits and can be relied upon to delight their readers. Shame on you:(;)!

Only because I'd assumed that Benedict was familiar with them, Mark. I match and possibly even exceed your high regard for both authors!
 
Yes, thank you Nayan, also ordered. The book seems to have only been published in the States. The author Luke Barr is apparently the great-nephew of MFK Fisher. It will be interesting to see whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.
I do try to avoid using Amazon, but I couldn't find it available anywhere else. They are prepared to ship over a vg hardback copy from Seattle for £4.16 all in. That does seem to be very good value.
 
Out to Lunch - Paul Levy
The Soul of a Chef - Michael Ruhlman
The Man Who Ate Everything/It Must've Been Something I Ate - Jeffrey Steingarten
Cutting it Fine - Andrew Parkinson
Great British Chefs 1 & 2 - Kit Chapman
The Elusive Truffle - Mirabel Ostler
Heat - Bill Buford
Anything by AJ Liebling
The Merchant House Cookbook - Shaun Hill
 
A great list, Andy. I remember the Paul Levy book well, I was very jealous of him in the 80s(it seemed that there was no restaurant in London into which one could not walk without seeing him and his chins) and my copy gave up the ghost so well read was it. I saw him recently at Paddington station, a little worn but not much changed; which reminds me, his 'Official Foodie Handbook', while flippant in tone, is a veritable repository of all that has made me an incorrigible food snob, something I recognise with some regret pleading absorption in Olney and Mrs. David as partial mitigation.
 
I haven't read the book but there was an enjoyable review in the New Yorker - Why Can’t We Let Go of the Myth of French Food? . I liked the description of Richard Olney as being, amongst the group concerned, the best cook and the worst snob.

Part of the eternal yearning of France and America to be enveloped by each other's culture. I was going to call it a love-hate relationship but there isn't much hate really. Cultivated America has always been inexorably drawn to France and French popular culture yearns deeply to be American while professing to despise all American manifestations.
Olney's 'Reflexions' is indeed among the most astonishingly bitchy memoirs ever composed. One suspects that it would have been somewhat bowdlerised had he lived to see it to the printers, but that may well not have increased its enjoyability. His work though is a great embodiment of the north's historical romantic yearning for the south, as with Byron, Elizabeth David or even Peter Mayle, a kind of fictionalisation which in no way detracts from notions of authenticity.
I was sad to realise the other day while perusing several volumes of 'The Good Cook' Time life series that for all its virtuosity so much of that cooking has really started to seem very dated indeed. Sad for my own lost youth as much as anything, 1982 was a long time ago now.
 
In no particular order:

Auberge of the Flowering Hearth
by Roy Andries de Groot

When French Women Cook
by Madeleine Kamman

Ten Vineyard Lunches
by Richard Olney and other Olney books (although Reflexions truly is every bit as bad as Tom says)

The French Woman's Kitchen
and Recipes from the French Kitchen Garden by Brigitte Tilleray

Claudia Roden's various works

The Cook and the Gardener
by Amanda Hess

Collections of Joseph Wechsberg's essays and of Ludwig Bemmelmann's essays (and drawings), and on wine, Gerald Asher's collected essays and Kermit Lynch's Adventures on the Wine Route.

I could go on, but that should suffice.

Please pose responses to Provence 1970. I was underwhelmed. I think the above description of Olney as the best cook and the worst snob must surely be correct.
 
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Madeleine Kamman comes across as a not a very pleasant individual from her book . Provence 1970 is worth reading but Luke Barr is understandably heavily biased in favour of Fisher . Judging by Olney's memoir he was not fond of any of them expect Simone Beck .
 
Madeleine Kamman comes across as a not a very pleasant individual from her book . Provence 1970 is worth reading but Luke Barr is understandably heavily biased in favour of Fisher . Judging by Olney's memoir he was not fond of any of them expect Simone Beck .
Olney famously hated Kamman.

He and Beck did get on quite well -- her Food and Friends contains an hommage he wrote and recipes for a lunch he created for her. She mentions frequent visits to Olney's place near Toulon and refers to him as "Richard the Gourmet-Hearted."
 
Julia Child and she did not exactly hit it off, either.
We all know cranky people; in fact, some of us may even be quite cranky ourselveso_O:rolleyes::confused:. By all accounts I know, Kamman was quite cranky; but she had a very successful television show and plenty of well-received cookbooks, and a friend who ate at her restaurant in Massachusetts back in the 1970s says it was an amazing meal.

Besides, if you want to do a meal of Savoie cooking to go with your hipster Savoie wines, what choice do you have in English other than her Madeleine Kamman's Savoie? :)
 
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Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food, not just for the authoritative recipes, but also the erudite commentary and charming apochyphal stories. Levantine cuisine may be my favourite
 
I opened Jacob Kenedy's Bocca cookbook today and am ashamed to say that I had quite forgotten what a truly outstanding achievement it is, perfectly being capable of being read as prose; what a remarkably talented fellow.
I gather 'Jamie's Italy' has been extremely successful in Italian translation. I wonder how this would go down?
 
I'm sure you know Matthew Fort's 'Eating up Italy' and William Black's 'Al Dente' on the same subject. Edward Behr's 'The food and wine of France' is very enjoyable though overlaps quite a lot with '50 foods'. Jonathan Meades 'Incest and morris dancing' is now a portrait of an era as much as anything but of course very enjoyable, A J Liebling's various works are terrific and RW Apple's 'Far flung and well fed' quite fun. I think most of the best are actually books with recipes, though, I think of 'La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange' and 'Popes, peasants and shepherds' by Oretta Zanini de Vita on Roman cooking, 'Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju and Tsuifeng Lin, 'Musings of a Chinese Gourmet' by Dr. F.T Cheng(you might have to borrow mine), Simon Hopkinson's books, Paula Wolfert's exhaustive and magnificent works, Fuchsia Dunlop's 'Shark's fin and Sichuan pepper', 'When French women cook' by Julia Child's rival Madeline Kamman.The list is almost endless really-and Patience Gray'previous volume ' Plats Du Jour' has a unique charm.
Coming to this thread very late, by remarkable coincidence the first three books you mention, Tom, are the three I was looking to see whether they had come up. I'm not really a connoisseur of food writing, but those are favourites, the Behr being recent.

I do like Nick Lander's The Art of the Restaurateur, but that's not quite about "food" as much as people who make it and places that serve it. It is, however, inspirational.
 
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