Cookbooks are wonderful, but what I really love are books that talk about food and the impact that food, food sourcing and preparation can have on an individual, family, community, or humanity at large. Through another’s stories and philosophies we can step outside our personal relationship with food and begin to widen our perspective and possibly challenge some of our own beliefs. This way of seeing food in a new light can often do more to change our diets than any recipe ever could. Some of my favorite books explore ideas like making food as a daily sacrament, a gift of love, or a practice of hospitality to others or even to oneself.
In honor of the official start of summer this week (woohoo!) I thought I would share with you my very favorite food-related books. These books don’t prescribe specific diets or wellness strategies, rather they are the stories that have made me fall in love with real food and are perfect to pack in your beach bag on a lazy summer afternoon.
Since this is my first time sharing a reading list with you, these are some old, but classic titles. Perhaps next summer my list will be more current.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (2007)
In her first nonfiction book, Barbara Kingsolver shares her family’s adventure in eating locally for one year. They leave the city in pursuit of farm life and learn a lot about vegetables, turkey sex, and family life.
Supper of the Lamb by Robert F. Capon (1989)
An amateur chef and Episcopal priest, Robert Capon has written a cookbook for life. Capon’s essays are built around recipes for lamb (he uses one leg of lamb to feed eight people over four meals), and are filled with witty and wise thoughts on everything from prayer to puff pastry; all leading to the conclusion that “the world will always be more delicious than it is useful.”
Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee (2007)
This biography examines the early days of the famed Berkely restaurant, Chez Panisse and its visionary founder, Alice Waters. Like most restaurants, the history of Chez Panisse is wrought with drama, but Alice Waters’ steadfast commitment to simple, seasonal, fresh cuisine has not only helped Chez Panisse become the acclaimed restaurant it is today, but Waters’ philosophy has reached beyond the restaurant walls and started the worldwide “market culture” movement.
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist (2013)
This collection of essays by Shauna Niequist connects food with the value of community by beautifully and vulnerably sharing about life around the table. She intertwines nourishment of both body and soul in her meals, whether they are extravagant or simple, celebratory or sober.
Do you have any food-related book recommendations for me? Share your favorites in the comments below!