Some exceptional books about food. Cook books, novels, memoirs, miscellany.

(Full disclosure: if you make a purchase by clicking on the links below, I earn a trivial pittance which helps subsidize the hosting of this site and my addiction to expensive camera lenses. If having bought one of the below you find it without merit, sadly I am unable to refund you. But I will be astonished.)

 

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How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

Does what it says on the cover. This book, by an order of magnitude, is the one which I have followed more than any other in the kitchen. Bittman is practical, serious and highly reliable. It an expansive and generous work, and one which I find myself giving to people whom I really care about.

 

Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson.

Is it possible to love a man whom you have never met? Fergus Henderson long ago transcended from cult figure to foodie hero, and it’s cool (dare I say faddish?) to revere him. But my reverence is sincere, and when my wife took me to his restaurant in London, it was one of the happiest dinners of my life.

 

Beyond Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson.

The sequel. Like 99% of people who own these two books, I’ve never made Lambs Brain Terrine nor Crispy Pigs’ Tails. But I find it reassuring to know that – should the mood take me – I have the recipe at hand. And now the organs, gristle and wobbly bits are joined by desserts.  The recipe for madeleines is peerless.

 

Heliopolis by James Scudamore

This is a wonderful story, whose author (I ‘m fortunate enough to know from plenty of first hand experience) is not only a brilliant writer but also a formidable gastronome. The narrative is cleverly assembled around a series of dishes, but this tale is about a lot more than just food. This book deserved the Booker Prize which it came close to winning. You should certainly read it.

 

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain’s popularity – in at the States, at least – is immense. But this makes him no less clever and no less right about pretty much everything upon which he rests his gaze. I owe this book a genuine debt of gratitude, for it talked me out of ever becoming a professional chef, and talked me into appreciating that I would forever lead a happier, saner life as a half-decent home cook.

 

The Debt to Pleasure: A Novel by John Lanchester.

A compelling but rather peculiar novel with gastronomy and mischief at its heart. I don’t wish to say too much about it for fear of spoilers, but essential reading.

 

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