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Dig In! A Veritable Buffet of Food-Focused Literature

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 26, 2019

Foodie Literature

It seems like you can't throw a dinner roll without hitting a food blogger these days, but we aren't complaining! The sensual pleasures of dining well make for palatable prose. The emotional significance of sustenance is universal and powerful. Here we share some of our favorite culinary compositions. (Along with food pairings featured in the books!)

True Food

Those tasty bloggers? They're dishing up scrumptious memoirs as the next course. Is it our imagination or are good chefs often also good writers? Maybe it's because they have such yummy material. Here are some of our favorites.

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

Pair with Pasta Carbonara
The legendary Reichl (pronounced RYE-shil) has written several excellent memoirs about her experiences as a foodie, chef, and food writer. This one is about her time as the New York Times food critic, donning a variety of inventive costumes to dine incognito in NYC restaurants.

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Pair with Cider-Glazed Salmon
Wizenberg, a Seattle-based food blogger and restaurateur, offers this lovely collection of essays—and recipes—dedicated to beautiful homemade food and its significance in her life.

The Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin

Pair with some Kansas City Barbeque
This trio of books (American Fried, Alice, Let's Eat, Third Helpings) was first published in the 1970s and 80s and republished as a single volume in 1994. Trillin, dubbed America's funniest food writer, shares his experiences eating in restaurants all over the country.

The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K Fisher

Pair with Chilled Fruits in Wine and Cream
Fisher is a front-runner in this genre, publishing her first collection of food-related essays in 1937! As described on this website dedicated to her, “her writings revere the art of eating simply but well, of taking pleasure where it is found and of loving life with all of its challenges.” This book, widely considered her best, chronicles her gastronomical coming of age.

Kitchen Fiction

Food is life. Food is love. The way to the heart is through the stomach. These statements get to the root of why food often figures prominently in good fiction. It serves as a metaphor for the essential in life. Scenes involving food are often the most evocative, serving as mouthwatering metaphors for human joy and connection.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

Pair with Apple and Dried-Apricot Clafoutis
Harris is also the author of Chocolat, which inspired the movie. In this historical novel set in a French village, Framboise has inherited her mother's tattered scrapbook of recipes. The pages are filled with cryptic clues about the tragic circumstances that divided her family, and the town, many decades before.

The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones

Pair with Pork Spare Ribs in Lotus Leaf
A recently widowed food writer is summoned to Beijing to respond to a paternity claim against her late husband's estate. With an assignment to profile a rising Chinese chef while she's there, she finds herself deeply intrigued both by the food and the man.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café by Fannie Flag

Pair with Fried Green Tomatoes, of course!
You may remember the movie of the same name, but the book offers a much richer and more complex story about two women running a diner together in a small Alabama town in the 1930s. The pages are filled with colorful characters, good food, and even a possible murder.

Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Pair with a wedge of Coolarney Gold
Set on a small Irish dairy farm, this debut novel follows Abby and Kit, two people set adrift by separate circumstances and searching for new lives. The quirky cast will amuse you and the descriptions of the luscious cheeses will make your mouth water.

Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber

Pair with Stuffed Grape Leaves with Lamb Shanks
Thirty-nine years old and never married, Sirine works as a chef in a Lebanese restaurant in Los Angeles. Passionate only about the piquant food she makes, she doesn't expect love...until one day it walks in the door.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Pair with Quail in Rose Petal Sauce
Another terrific book that has been adapted to a popular film, this is a romantic, poignant tale of forbidden love, bittersweet humor, and delectable magic. Recipes included!

May I have some more please?

This is just a few of our favorites in food lit, but we know there are many more delicious reads out there. Reply with your favorites! And be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to get daily book recommendations and more.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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Cookbooks | Memoir | Romance
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