Page Hungry: Books for All Kinds of Foodies

By Kathleen Nalley | Last Updated November 01, 2014
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page hungry

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.

Bringing It To the Table by Wendell Berry

bringing it to the table
Berry, the author of over 50 books of fiction, poetry and essays, is not only a famed writer; he has farmed a hillside in Henry County,...

Salt by Mark Kurlansky

salt by mark kurlansky
Salt—that staple on our dining room tables, in our pantries, beside our cooktops. Salt—that wondrous, edible rock that flavors almost all...

The Hungry Ear, ed. Kevin Young

the hungry ear
The 158 poems in this collection celebrate food in all its guises: as an ingredient, the oft-long process of making and the oft-short...

The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

the gift of southern cooking
Often called the “Odd Couple of Southern Cooking,” celebrated chefs Lewis and Peacock collaborated on this labor-of-love cookbook prior to...

Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried

fictitious dishes
Ever come across something that makes you say aloud, “What a great idea! Wish I would have thought of that!” That’s exactly how we reacted...

Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree

mastering the art of southern cooking
Ever wondered how your grandmother kept her okra from getting slimy? Or how she made those perfectly fluffy biscuits? With chef, cookbook...
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