Page Hungry: Books for All Kinds of Foodies
In a new regular column for our Holiday issue, six books that whet our appetites.
Culinary books have great impact, and great stories. I purchased MFK Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me, and understood that culinary passion and literary passion often come from the same place. A friend let me borrow Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love after my divorce; the author’s journey of self-discovery largely mimicked my own. And when my grandmother, now 95 years young, moved into assisted living, she handed down her 1988 Southern Living Cookbook, filled with handwritten notes and variations she’d made to the recipes over the years, to this lucky lady.
But perhaps a cookbook I gave as a gift impacted me most. Several years ago, I purchased a copy of Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook as a Christmas gift for my son, who had expressed an interest in learning how to cook, yet inevitably ran the opposite direction whenever the opportunity arose (probably because he understood from an early age that washing dishes was a part of the cooking equation). When he opened his Christmas presents, I was shocked that the one item he gravitated toward (and honestly, couldn’t put down) was that cookbook.
Two days later, he was in the kitchen, making “Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki Kebabs with Grilled Pineapple,” from page 136. I’ll never forget the look of pride radiating from his face as he served our family dinner that evening.
He’s 14 now, and while he’s outgrown the cartoony graphics and simplicity of Deen cookbook, he still cooks. Just last week, he made rosemary, garlic potato pizza on a homemade nine-grain crust. And that same look of pride, albeit a little more mature, still beamed.
Here are a few of my favorite culinary books to consider gifting this year. After all, you never know what an inspired gift will return.