A Food Writer’s Favourite Food Books

fashionable880If you ask most people, their best-loved books about food are probably cookbooks. They likely don’t actually cook from these tomes but rather consider them light entertainment, to be read in bed, provoking dreams of meals they’ll probably never prepare. As someone who spends most of the day reading and writing about food, books have to have a unique point of view or subject matter to catch my interest, and especially to earn a permanent spot on my shelf.

These are a few of my favourites, chosen mostly for their diversity in demonstrating different styles of food, cooking and eating. There are no celebrity names here, no flashy TV shows to help sell these titles, and no well known food writing personalities, but I think they cover an interesting cross-section of food writing and food history.

bakingbioBaking as Biography – A Life Story in Recipes by Diane Tye
What if the person whose cooking you most admire actually hates to cook? Diane Tye relates the story of growing up as the daughter of a minister in 1970s New Brunswick. Her mother, responsible for preparing food for weekly church functions, drew on recipes from various sources depending on who she was cooking for. Tye’s narration is sometimes clinical, observing food trends as they related to social norms, and sometimes familial and romanticized as she discusses her mother cooking dishes for the family. The book is often uneven as Tye relies too much on interviews with family members as opposed to either strict analysis or her own personal memories, but it’s such a vividly accurate picture of foodways in Atlantic Canada that it is one of my favourite food books.

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Lucky Dip – Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Some of us need a good stuff drink or two to get through the holidays, but for others, the drinking is the cause of many woes. [National Post: The Appetizer]

What chefs think about reviews of their restaurants and why “online reviewers” who hint around for free stuff and throw tantrums when they’re not treated like celebrities are skeezy dirtbags. Seriously. Whether you’re a blogger or on Yelp, don’t be that asshole who threatens a poor review unless you get freebies. [Eater]

Hands up – who actually likes candy canes? [Bon Appetit]

Awww…Mr. Biggelsworth is too much of a charmer to be your Christmas dinner. But you can have one of his tasty rare breed spawn for a good chunk of change. [Toronto Star]

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Lucky Dip – Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Everything old is new again. The next food trend won’t be about trucks or foam – it will be about history. [Wall Street Journal]

Your peanut butter is about to get expensive – even if you buy the local stuff. Time to stock up. [Toronto Star]

They don’t get to choose what they’ll eat, and to protesters there to have their say against corporations like Monsanto, than might mean dinner is a choice of prepared foods made with GMOs or nothing, but the folks occupying Wall Street are eating pretty well. [New York Times]

Canada is the only G8 country without a national school lunch program. Will we ever get one? [Globe and Mail]

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Lucky Dip – Monday, June 20th, 2011

It must be State Fair season; people are once again frying things that were never meant to be deep-fried. Like Kool-Aid. [Globe and Mail]

Don’t diss the junk food – it has its place as a guilty pleasure. [The Guardian]

It’s still tough going for women in professional kitchens. [National Post]

The fragmentation of food – while many of us aspire to eat foraged mushrooms around a battered harvest table, most people get their food from a box via the microwave. Plus, getting freekah. Let’s watch a food trend unfold. [The Independent]

Oh sweet merciful crap – someone has started a company making server uniforms for skeezy titty restaurants. [FOX Business]

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