More than any other season, summer just seems like the best time to kick back with a good book. Maybe it’s the fact that the warm weather forces us to slow down and smell the roses, but for one reason or another we find ourselves on the hunt for great reads this time of year. Here are our suggestions for those looking to read about the great world of food this summer.
Born Round, Frank Bruni
Frank Bruni has had a love-hate relationship with food his whole life, culminating in him being named The New York Times’ main restaurant critic in 2004. In this great memoir, he discusses his relationship with food in a way very few others could.
The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten set out to overcome his dislike of a handful of foods, and this hilarious and offbeat book was the result. Travel with Steingarten as he samples some of the world’s most fascinating foods, and learn at the same time why food is the one thing that really ties the entire world together.
Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, Gabrielle Hamilton
Hamilton is best known as the chef behind New York’s cult favorite Prune, and her 2012 memoir was a New York Times best-seller and named one of the year’s best books by nearly 15 major publications. We love this book because it’s so honest, gritty, and unflinching, all with a good dose of humor. We follow Hamilton through all the kitchens she’s cooked in, from her childhood home to France, Greece, Turkey, and finally to Prune. Not just the story of a chef realizing her dream, it’s the story of a woman quest to find herself.
Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir, Eddie Huang
One of the funniest food-related books you’re ever likely to read from one of the funniest chefs around today, Eddie Huang’s memoir starts in his hometown of Orlando, follows him through a series of misguided youthful indiscretions, and ends up in New York with him at the helm of one of the East Village most hopping restaurants, Baohaus. The 30-year-old Huang’s prose is brash, hip, and hilarious, and his memorable story is all about what it takes to forge an identity.
Back of the House: The Secret Life of a Restaurant, Scott Haas
This unflinching portrayal of what it takes to make it in the restaurant industry will forever change your impression of what makes a restaurant truly tick. Published earlier this year by a food writer and clinical psychologist who spent 18 months in the kitchen of one of Boston’s top restaurants, Craigie on Main, it delves into the emotional dynamics at play inside the minds of those who spend their lives in a fast-paced kitchen, and boy, is it dramatic. The motivations and inspirations behind some of the country’s leading chefs, including Thomas Keller and Andrew Carmellini, are all explored, and it’s a fascinating read.
But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria!: Adventures in Eating, Drinking, and Making Merry, Julia Reed
This collection of essays will make you wish that you could have actually traveled around with Reed, but her hilarious and fascinating book will make you feel like you’re along for the ride. Follow Reed on a culinary journey that takes her to places as far-flung as Kabul, Afghanistan, the English countryside, and her native Gulf Coast, picking up tips, skills, and pointers along the way on everything from entertaining to mixing cocktails to gardening. A truly entertaining summer read.
Obsessed: America's Food Addiction--and My Own, Mika Brzezinski
For those looking for something a little more serious, MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski courageously reveals her personal struggles with weight issues while delving deep into America’s obesity epidemic. By interviewing notables in the fields of medicine, health, business, the arts, and politics, she paints a picture of the food-related problems facing America today, and how they came to be.