My Favorite Food Book

Yesterday, one of my nerdy-in-a-great-way friends asked me to recommend “a good read” about food. I told her to read Much Depends on Dinner by Margaret Visser. It was published in 1988, long before Michael Pollan ever typed a word about the history, mythology, and taboos behind what we eat. Visser’s style is elegant and she takes simple ingredients such as rice, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, butter, and corn and traces the history and importance of these, and other, elements in our food chain. Do you have a favorite you’d like to recommend? We’re all eyes and ears.



  • tb

    An Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo Pellegrini

    Per Ruth Reichel: “Pellegrini’s book was not a cookbook in any ordinary sense. It was a manifesto for living the good life. Pellegrini had emigrated from Italy at age 10, but, unlike so many immigrants, he cherished his roots. Although he turned himself into an English professor, in his heart he was a peasant. During the day he taught Shakespeare, but at home he gardened, fished, and cooked in a wood-burning oven. He believed, passionately, that eating well was important.”

    It’s a great manifesto for honest food, but I particularly love it for the vividness of Pellegrini’s voice that comes through the writing. He’s the kind of guy who might drive you crazy, but you loved him for it.

  • A Food Writer

    Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop. Really fantastic. Also, The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten is a classic, regardless of your opinion of the man himself.

  • Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris by A.J. Liebling, the great New Yorker writer and press critic, including his favorite typical meal: “a dozen Gardiners Island oysters, a bowl of clam chowder, a peck of steamers, some bay scallops, three sautéed soft-shell crabs, a few ears of fresh-picked corn, a thin swordfish steak of generous area, a pair of lobsters, and a Long Island duck.”

  • Bobby Ewing

    A few of my faves…
    Far Flung and Well Fed, by RW Apple. Collected essays deliciously combining travel with food history and restaurant reviews from around the world.
    Consider the Oyster, by MFK Fisher. You delight in the brine now understand the thing from a “poet of the appetites.”
    The Man Who Ate the World, by Jay Rayner. Quite simply one man’s search for the best meal in the world.
    Salt: a World History, by Mark Kurlansky. Scholarly yet accessible history of the commodity/cooking essential.

  • AS

    Endless Feasts, 60 years of writing from Gourmet. Edited by Ruth Reichl. Authors include everyone from M.F.K. Fisher to Ray Bradbury to George Plimpton to Paul Theroux.

  • Kirk

    On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.

  • Katie M.

    Alice, Let’s Eat by Calvin Trillin