13 Delicious Books for Foodies
If you love to savor both a good meal and a rich story, then this list is for you. From mouthwatering memoirs to food-focused fiction, we have book recommendations for every type of foodie.
By Erin French
Erin French is the owner and chef of The Lost Kitchen, a world-class dining destination in Freedom, Maine, that champions homegrown cooking and local farmers and producers. In her New York Times bestselling memoir Finding Freedom, French shares her story of struggle and triumph in a narrative enriched by renderings of Maine’s lush landscape and mouthwatering descriptions of locally sourced ingredients. From her first job in her father’s diner to challenges with addiction and single-motherhood and finding her culinary success, French candidly details the highs and lows of her cooking career. Not only that, she does it all with honesty and warmth in this “compelling, authentic tale of grit and determination” (Associated Press).
Blood, Bones, and Butter
By Gabrielle Hamilton
In Blood, Bones, and Butter, renowned chef Gabrielle Hamilton chronicles her lifelong passion for cooking and her food-driven search for greater meaning and purpose in kitchens around the world. For years, Hamilton traveled the globe dishing out tasty meals to strangers and loved ones alike, from the kitchen of her childhood home in rural Pennsylvania to cooking sessions in France, Greece, and Turkey. Along the way, she broke bread with her Italian mother-in-law and opened up her own acclaimed restaurant in New York’s East Village. A winning blend of travelogue adventure and culinary self-discovery, Hamilton’s bestselling food memoir is deliciously told.
The Cooking Gene
By Michael W. Twitty
In this James Beard Award–winning work, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty movingly explores the crossroads of race, culture, and cuisine in his search for the true soul of Southern cooking. Twitty, an African American Jewish man who grew up in Washington, D.C., ventures into his past to complete his culinary quest, sampling the foundational foods and traditions of the American South as he traces his ancestral roots from their origins in Africa to enslavement and then freedom in America. Throughout The Cooking Gene, Twitty bravely confronts the difficult question of who “owns” Southern cuisine and suggests that a kinder and more unified future may be found around the table.
By Lucy Knisley
Relish by Lucy Knisley is a New York Times bestselling memoir about family and food in the form of a graphic novel. Knisley, who grew up in a food-centric home, captures the milestones of her life and the dishes that accompanied those moments. Her celebration of good meals and great company serves as the foundation for her thoughtful narrative. With illustrated recipes for every chapter — some passed down through her family, some from Knisley’s own kitchen — Relish is a treat from start to finish.
By Matthew Amster-Burton
At the intersection of foodie and fatherhood, you’ll find food critic Matthew Amster-Burton and his delightful Hungry Monkey. The author chronicles his roller-coaster journey as a stay-at-home dad teaching his infant daughter about food and encouraging her to become an adventurous eater. Told with a heaping dose of humor and enriched with a list of venturesome recipes (that are little-helper-friendly), Amster-Burton’s memoir touts the joys of food and of sharing those delights with your children.
Alice, Let’s Eat
By Calvin Trillin
From New Yorker food writer Calvin Trillin, Alice, Let’s Eat is a humor-filled voyage through the world and a joyful celebration of sitting down at the table with your loved ones. Trillin crisscrosses the globe in search of a good meal and is accompanied by an array of unforgettable dining companions, from famous foodies to his picky 6-year-old daughter and Trillin’s beloved wife, Alice. Funny, warm, and adventurous, Alice, Let’s Eat is a treat for gourmands and book lovers alike.
By Anthony Bourdain
In this instant New York Times bestseller, legendary chef Anthony Bourdain serves up a sizzling love letter to the food world. From the culture and the cooks to his own globe-trotting culinary career, Bourdain chronicles the ever-shifting state of the restaurant business and brings it all back to his core kitchen philosophy: “Why cook?” and further, “Why cook well?” A “vivid, bawdy, and often foul-mouthed writer…who writes well about things he holds dear” (Wall Street Journal), Bourdain lays it all out on the table in Medium Raw.
Like Water for Chocolate
By Laura Esquivel
Enticing recipes, a dash of magic, and forbidden romance come together splendidly in Laura Esquivel’s internationally bestselling magical realist novel Like Water for Chocolate. Bound by Mexican tradition to care for her mother until her death, Tita is prohibited from marrying her sweetheart, Pedro. But Pedro will do whatever it takes to be close to the woman he loves and her truly magical cooking, even if it means marrying Tita’s sister. Witty, romantic, and bittersweet, Like Water for Chocolate is a perfect read for the foodie who loves a love story.
By Louise Penny
Still Life by Louise Penny is the bestselling first installment of her Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series. In it, Penny introduces us to Monsieur L’Inspecteur Armand Gamache, a gourmand detective tasked with solving the mysterious demise of a beloved artist in the hamlet of Three Pines, Quebec. The artist’s death initially appears to be a hunting accident, but Gamache suspects something darker — and more deliberate — is at play. While it’s certainly a whodunit, Still Life makes our list for its mouthwatering descriptions of the food its characters enjoy. Indeed, part of what makes Penny’s award-winning Gamache mystery books so delectable are her evocative depictions of gourmet meals and Quebecois cuisine. After all, who can solve a murder on an empty stomach?
Butter Honey Pig Bread
By Francesca Ekwuyasi
A story of motherhood, spirituality, and the unbreakable bond of family, Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi is an astounding debut novel. The narrative spans three continents to tell the story of Kambirinachi and her twin daughters, Kehinde and Taiye. Driven apart by a traumatic episode, the mother–daughter trio disperse to lead lives of their own. Years later they reunite in Lagos and must find a way to share a meal once again. Ekwuyasi builds a beautiful world in her evocative tale, enriching it with sumptuous descriptions of food. This one will leave your heart full and your stomach hungry for more.
Convenience Store Woman
By Sayaka Murata
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is told with a delicious deadpan delivery, offering a fresh take on the age-old adage “You are what you eat.” Keiko Furukura has never really fit in, but when she accepts a job at the local convenience store, her life takes on new purpose and serenity. Eating most of her meals at work, Keiko describes her sense of self through food, saying: “When I think that my body is entirely made up of food from this store… I feel like I’m as much a part of the store as the magazine racks or the coffee machine.” Foodies who see a bit of themselves in the meals they create might just find a kindred spirit in Keiko.
By Banana Yoshimoto
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto is an ode to kitchen and home, telling the story of a family in contemporary Japan. When her grandmother passes, Mikage is taken in by a friend and his mother, a loving and nurturing transgender woman. Together the trio face tragedy and embrace companionship, establishing a new family unit built on their support of one another and the kitchen they share. Kitchen is an endearing and emotive read that The New York Times calls “lucid, earnest, and disarming.”
By Muriel Barberry
In Gourmet Rhapsody, famed French novelist Muriel Barberry delivers a flavorful tale about taste memory and the spices of life. Pierre Arthens, an imperious Parisian food critic, is dying. He’s made a career out of bestowing culinary superstardom on some chefs while destroying the careers of others. Now, however, in the twilight of his life, all Monsieur Arthens yearns for is one last bite, one more taste of the Flavor. So begins our wild ride through Arthens’ life and times — told in turn by Arthens himself, his loved ones, and a cat. Written with “lush and satisfying prose” (Publishers Weekly), Gourmet Rhapsody gleefully skewers unchecked power while relishing life’s sensory delights — like taking a bite of something wickedly delicious.