"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Books to chew on

by Julie Tilsner on April 28, 2008

in Delicious Books

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. In cooking skills. In reading. I don’t have the brain cells for much of either these days.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t have a stack o’ books on my floor, many of them having to do with food. The thinking is that if I can plow my way through these, I might have more of a bead on my ongoing attempts at culinary competence.

My Life in France
, by Julia Child — Oh, to be a 6-foot American woman in France in the 50s. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so scared of the French. I keep trying to work my way through this book, but I keep coming up against the unpronounceable…

Fork it Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater, by Alan Richman. Funny stuff by GQ’s food critic, who, if I’m to believe the first few stories, is a neurotic mama’s boy who can’t boil water himself.

Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
, by Isabel Allende — Food, sex. Sex, food. Two of my favorite topics.

Third Helpings, by Calvin Trillin — The book’s about 20 years old, but anything this well-known, very funny New Yorker writer pens is worth digesting.

Letters to a Young Chef, by Daniel Bouloud — A delicious peek into what it would take to become a world-famous chef…and proof beyond doubt that I don’t have it. Still, I’m always one to live vicariously if I can.

Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess,
by Gael Greene — New York Magazine’s food critic takes a romp through her days covering the Foodie Revolution, whatever that is. As debauched as Richman is straight-laced.  I wonder if they ever met?

Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as a Kitchen Slave…etc., by Bill Bufurd. Editor meets Mario Batali. Editor decides he wants to learn how to be a chef. Wacky hi-jinx ensue.

It must Have been Something I ate
, by Jeffery Steingarten — Vogue’s food writer. Bodacious. Blue-blooded. And smarter than you. Fabulously bitchy essays on everything from gourmet salts to Toro sushi.

Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl — I read this years ago, but it’s one of those books I enjoyed so much I keep it around just to relive the pleasure of reading certain passages. One day I may even try her recipe for apple dumplings and hard sauce. And won’t that be a hoot?

The Art of Eating, by M.F.K. Fisher — The Bible of foodie books. The book I should have read years ago. But I keep having to return it to the library. With all the late fees I’ve paid on this one, I could have bought my own copy by now.

Another book I don’t have, but want, even though it’s not going to do me any good at all, is Michael Ruhlman’s The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen.

I pick through all of these whenever I have a minute or two to spare. Something may rub off on me if I keep them piled on the floor long enough. What do you all think? Am I missing some essential foodie tome here?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin April 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm

I loved My Life in France! I didn’t know a ton about Julia Child before reading it, but now she’s one of my favorite chefs. It’s fascinating to read about her Journey. I’m reading Heat right now, by Bill Buford. It’s about his adventures at Babbo, with Mario Batali. It’s making me crave Italian food like crazy, and also is inspiring me to make more Italian food from scratch. I blogged about a few food books here: http://cookingandeatinginthewindycity.blogspot.com/2008/02/blogging-about-books.html


ATriana April 29, 2008 at 11:14 am

..witty, amusing little accounts here Tilsner. As the book you want above is directly linked to Amazon, you might just watch the mails…


Wheeler's April 30, 2008 at 11:23 am

Those sound like good reads! I’ve always wanted to check out My Life in France … looks interesting!


Bratsky May 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm

You have some wonderful books there! Some other great books are Ruth Reichl’s “Garlic and Sapphires” as well as “Comfort me with Apples”
“The Soul of a Chef”
“The Making of a Chef”
“The Reach of a Chef”
all by Ruhlman – amazing reads!
Tony Bourdain’s books to be certain as you can’t put them down once you start!
Some other titles
“My Kitchen Wars”
“Apricots on the Nile”
and anything at all from Alton Brown!!!
I really love reading your culinary adventures, you are a fantastic writer! =)


BaddAss MisterJ May 3, 2008 at 10:50 am

If you ever want to know what it’s like to be an American Girl in trying to be a Sushi Chef. . . Check out “The Zen of Fish: a story of sushi from samurai to supermarket” by Trevor Corson http://www.trevorcorson.com


Connie May 5, 2008 at 4:35 am

Um, I think I’ll get Allende’s book too. Sounds absolutely delicious. =)


http://EncoreSeraphine.com May 5, 2008 at 11:47 am

I don’t think I have ever had an apple dumpling. What is it, an apple slice rolled in a type of dumpling? Or is it a type of pastry?
Ohhhh, don’t hate because I’m stupid. I really don’t know!


Julie R May 6, 2008 at 8:02 pm

How about Don’t Try This at Home a compilation of essays by working chefs all about their disasters? It is edited by someone Day Lewis, sister to the actor. I personally didn’t find it a great read buy my chef friend is laughing her head off reading it.


Annie H. May 10, 2008 at 7:57 pm

I look like you, don’t I, mom?


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