Take escape from the kitchen, read a cooking-related book


recipe book on checkered tablecloth

You may have seen, heard or read some of the hype surrounding the One Book, One Mesa County book selection this year.

If not, you should look in to it. I was excited to hear that the book for 2016 was a culinary read — “Kitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal — and could not think of a better selection to draw people together than a book about food.

Food and reading are two of my favorite things. But that was not always the case. Growing up, I was a silly outdoorsy redhead with other priorities.

Fast forward a few decades (OK, more than a few), and I am equally infatuated with reading as well as cooking.

I am not sure at what point my fascination with reading developed, but I have become obsessed. Maybe I am making up for lost time.

My priorities have changed since my youth, and now I literally panic come evening if I don’t have a great book to get lost in.

After all the stimulating hours in the kitchen I need a mental escape and, not so surprisingly, in the past year or so I have focused on culinary reads.

When I was informed of the One Book selected this year, I quickly conducted an inventory and was shocked to find I read more than two dozen culinary reads just in the past year.

And I have opinions about all of them.

I love to read all kinds of cookery-related books, both fiction and non-fiction. I find serious comfort in short stories, novels and biographies that encompass food with the trials and tribulations of life.

We all have personal stories good and bad that somehow involve the intricacies of preparing food and eating.

Just this week, an older gentleman introduced himself to me at the grocery store and immediately headed down memory lane explaining that he was raised in the back of a restaurant in California and recounted his fondness of the food created by the head chef, who was named Pearl.

It was clear his childhood was deeply studded with memories of food. He is not alone. I truly love hearing and reading about these types of memories as I think food is the one thing that binds us together.

And so I went through the difficult task of narrowing the culinary reads I have most savored in the past year to this Top 10 list.

I hope this list inspires you to pick up a culinary read soon, sit down and relax.

1. “My Berlin Kitchen,” by Luisa Weiss

A beautifully written book with intimate admissions of life’s highs and lows, love and loss with an affection for the kitchen being the stabilizing force. I am looking forward to trying many of her German and Italian influenced recipes.

2. “A Homemade Life,” 
by Molly Wizenberg

If you coin yourself a foodie and are not following Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette, then you should start. This book is filled with entertaining, personal stories ending with creative recipes. I used so many sticky notes it would have been simpler not to. My family conducted a “taste off” based on Wizenberg’s Father’s French Toast recipe and we unanimously agreed. Oil is better than butter!


3. “Tender at the Bone,” 
by Ruth Reichl

For me, the references to the food era I grew up in and my close proximity to Berkeley touched so close to home I felt a personal connection to Ruth. I am sure anyone who reads her writings will as well. In her early years, Reichl was a restaurant critic and food writer, who was drawn into the rich and famous of the food world.


4. “Delancey,” by Molly Wizenberg

A restaurant, a love story, a dream-come-true, with honest confessions of the weight life can place on us. I cannot wait to make the road trip to Seattle to visit Delancey pizza parlor, as well as The Pantry, a cooking school next door.


5. “Blood, Bones and Butter,” 
by Gabrielle Hamilton

Up and down, highs and lows, this book forced me to reflect on my own life.  It is raw, honest, pure and humorous. Hamilton is the owner of the famous New York restaurant Prune and is featured in the Emmy-winning and James Beard Award-winning television series “The Mind Of A Chef.”

6. “Comfort Me with Apples,” by Ruth Reichl

A sequel to “Tender at the Bone,” Reichl opens up to the reader with rare honesty and shares her continuing journey through the food industry with temptations.


7. “The Hundred 
Foot Journey,” 
by Richard Morais

Interest for this book arose from the movie, however I cannot sit for very long, and opted for the read instead. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will at some point attempt to relax long enough to compare it with the movie.


8. “White Truffles in Winter,” 

I literally cannot pass on anything with truffles, this book included. It offers a fun imaginary depiction of the life of Auguste Escoffier, who was one of the leaders of modern French cuisine in the early 20th century. Captivating and scandalous.


9. “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake,” by Aimee Bender

How would you feel if you could taste where your food came from? Would this superpower be a blessing or a curse? A fun read, for sure.


10. “At The Mesa’s Edge,” 
by Eugenia Bone

Bone is a local author who lives part time in Paonia. I thoroughly enjoyed the Western Slope references and related to the struggle to adapt as a transplant. This book also contains a variety of wonderful recipes.


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