9 Gourmet Books for Foodies

Who’s hungry for a good read?

Hungry or not, I can always eat. I’m someone who moans in ecstasy when eating a warm, delicious dessert. I plunge into a Cacio e Pepe pasta dish like it’s nobody’s business. And I’m a sucker for a gorgeous plated presentation — I literally gasp in appreciation. And as a book lover, naturally, I always want seconds of books about food? Ingesting stories can whet my appetite just as successfully as a perfectly composed meal. Well, almost. Actually, pass the cheese board! 

These are some of my favorite cookbooks and food books. Bon appetit! 

The 9 Best Food Books and Cookbooks

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

You’ll want to run to your favorite Italian restaurant and carbo-load after reading this sumptuous, humorous love story about the power of food and family written by award-winning actor Stanley Tucci. He goes behind-the-scenes on movies like Julie & Julia (my favorite!) and gives us the story behind the plates. His own cancer journey is rawly recounted on the page, a particularly awful tragedy given its impact on his taste. You will want to hug Tucci — and take him out to dinner — after reading his story.

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

I’m such a huge fan of Ruth Reichl’s. I’ve read her memoirs Tender at the Bone, Save Me The Plums, Garlic & Sapphires, and Comfort Me With Apples, plus her novel Delicious! How could I not inhale her memoir in recipes?! Reichl is the consummate foodie, the former editor of Gourmet magazine, and the best food writer around. Full stop. I hung on every word. 

Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi

Kwame Onwuachi’s story is both inspiring and heartbreaking. As this food-loving entrepreneur suffers setback after setback while coping with the temptations of where he grew up, we root for him as he builds his business and becomes a famous chef — so famous that there’s a movie being made about him! What really stood out for me is Onwuachi’s relationship with his mother and how she modeled hard work, determination, creativity, and love at every step. Perhaps that’s his secret sauce.

What’s Good? A Memoir in 14 Ingredients by Peter Hoffman

I want Peter Hoffman by my side next time I go to the farmer’s market. Hoffman’s decades in the restaurant and hospitality industry make for interesting fodder in his memoir in ingredients that will have you grabbing your shopping basket. 

Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French

Maine-based Erin French founded Freedom, a destination restaurant with just one menu per night. Her journey through abuse, young motherhood, and hardship just makes her victory taste even sweeter.

Food Americana: The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories Behind America’s Favorite Dishes by David Page

Want to know the origins of pizza? Chinese food in America? Who brought Mexican food mainland? Stick by David Page, founder of the foodie blockbuster show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. He’ll explain and entertain. 

The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for Tart, Tender and Unruly by Kate Lebo

Award-winning baker and writer Kate Lebo tackles one obscure fruit after another in this series of reflections of her own life as told through the fruits she has wrangled. 

Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning and Lyn Nguyen

This non-traditional family started a restaurant in Miami showcasing food that locals hadn’t yet seen — and soon came to love — as detailed in their heartfelt story of immigration, love in all shapes and sizes, and loyalty. 

The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List by Alana Newhouse and Tablet

Essays, recipes, stories, and more show why these 100 foods are the most culturally relevant foods around. If you’re looking for a good Hanukkah gift, for your food-loving Jewish friend, this is the perfect pick. And then, hopefully, they’ll invite you over when they recreate one of these recipes! 

Zibby Owens is a podcaster, author, and publisher.

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