BY EMMA SLONINA, Staff Writer
Contrary to popular belief, I do not just eat. Sometimes I think about food instead, or read about it.
Though people have been writing about food for centuries, there is an increasing interest in cookbooks, food blogs, essays on food, and formal gastronomic studies. I have compiled a list of my favorite books, essays, and websites that offer some “food for thought.”
The Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating (by Ari Weinzweig)
Written by Zingerman’s cofounder, this guide combines insightful essays on food culture, food items’ backgrounds, and delicious recipes featuring some of Zingerman’s most famous food ware. It’s a thick book, but completely readable. The reader learns how to select the very best food, from pasta to bacon. Though the suggested items are costly, the advice is invaluable. Dishes are explained at length so readers develop the skills to improve their culinary repertoire. A must-read for Zingerman’s fans and any curious foodies.
The Man Who Ate Everything (by Jeffrey Steingarten)
If you’ve ever watched Iron Chef America, you’ve probably seen Jeffrey Steingarten. He acts as the “Simon Cowell” of Iron Chef, with a comment about everything. I picked up his book, expecting the same scathing reviews and sarcastic comments, but Steingarten has a very appealing, almost self-deprecating writing style.
He tries everything, both in his cooking and in his eating, to become a less picky eater after he’s hired on as the food editor at Vogue. A wonderful collection of humorous essays.
The Story of Sushi (by Trevor Corson)
I am almost positive that sushi-phobes would still enjoy this book. The book follows a young woman working her way through the California Sushi Academy under an intimidating but masterful sushi chef. The narrative is split up by chunks of essay, describing the background of particular fish, seaweeds, and styles of sushi over the years. Though not the most polished book on sushi, it is a compelling read that offers a glimpse into the complicated, fascinating world of “raw fish and rice.”
Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink
This is a collection of food stories and essays printed in the New Yorker over the years. Some are old, from the 1930s, while others are contemporary. The older ones are hit-or-miss; some are extremely difficult to get through, while others paint romantic pictures of restaurants and food culture of yesteryear. There is plenty of variety amongst the authors and essays, from Woody Allen to Malcolm Gladwell. Even if you don’t enjoy the whole thing, you’re sure to find a handful of absolute gems.
The quintessential foodie bible. Hundreds, if not thousands, of “dictionary” entries all about food. Some restaurants are featured, as well as some famous chefs (alive and dead), but it mostly catalogues cooking techniques and various foodstuffs. My favorite sections in particular are the full-color plates of various produce items and meat charts indicating the various cuts of meat. I had only a vague idea before reading this that meat was butchered and cut differently in America than in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the rest of the world. If you are interested in cooking or eating, check this out. If you can find it in a library, even better; it sells for $48 on Amazon, in used condition.
My favorite source for recipes. This website collects submissions from hundreds of food bloggers, posting images from their blogs and a link to the corresponding recipe in an attractive, easy-to-navigate style. It is fully searchable, or you can browse through categories to find that perfect dinner party dish or healthy snack. There is the occasional post in another language, but they almost always feature Google Translate so you can get the gist. Especially good for those with food allergies or special diets.
Join the conversation! Let us know what cookbooks, websites or resources you turn to when hunger strikes.