Rebecca's Cooking Journal

salt and pepper

Recent Food Books

spice of life smallI recently finished two food books for the Spice of Life Challenge, the reading challenge I’m hosting. I posted them on my book reviews site, but I neglected to cross-post them here as I had intended to do. I’ve included relevant excerpts from those reviews below.

The first book was Molly Wizenberg’s memoir, A Homemade Life. I loved this book! As I mentioned in my previous post on this site, Molly’s life has been defined by food, and I envy that. As she explains each chapter of her life for us, she provides recipes so we can experience the integral food too, if we choose. It’s so much fun to see a life through the eyes of delicious foods. Molly shows that food is a communal part of our lives, helping to form lasting memories and lasting relationships. Food really can tell the stories of our lives, as Molly’s memoir/cookbook attests.

But A Homemade Life is not just about the food. Molly’s memoir is excellently written, easily readable, and absolutely delightful. I know “delightful” is a cliché, but this book seriously fits the word without being cliché. It is real, and yet amusing and engaging all at the same time. In fact, the only thing missing from this book are the gorgeous photographs Molly normally includes along with her blog posts on Orangette.

Many of the recipes Molly shares are a bit too “fancy” for my tastes. I’m primarily a family cook, and I don’t cook with specialty foods simply for cost reasons. “French style” cooking is not really my thing. But I do like simple food, and some of the recipes appear simple; at least a dozen and a half have entered my personal recipe file for future experimentation.

Molly’s story comes full circle, with the one center point in every part of her life being food.  In the end, I love the concept that foods, and not only the events, make up a life. In the end, I can say I liked reading Molly’s story so much I intend to reread it someday. And maybe cook some of her recipes. (Read the full review on Rebecca Reads.)

The second book I read was a cook book novel, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. The traditional Mexican recipes are provided in a novel format as it tells the story of Tita, Tita’s overbearing mother, and Tita’s lover, Pedro, who marries her sister. And yet, it’s not a cook book, and I don’t think it’s not an ordinary novel.

To learn the basic plot and some thoughts about magical realism, read the full review on Rebecca Reads. I will say here that I loved reading this book. It was part novel. It was part romance. It was part magic. It was part cook book (although I’d never attempt to create the meals, given the long-winded, unclear instructions that start with plucking feathers and so forth). Like Water for Chocolate emphasized the need to have a passion, a love, and a purpose in life, and Esquivel defined those aspects of life by the recipes and the sensual exaggerations common in magical realism. Certainly, Like Water for Chocolate had it faults in that it is short and all people in it were caricatures. And yet, I didn’t care. It was a fun book.

I’m giving away my lightly used paperback copy on that site if you want to give a read.

I also recently read a children’s cook book. My son is only 22-months old, but he loves to cook so I look forward to attempting some of the recipes in it. And then I’m also reading a book about knife care, something I desperately need to learn about.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.