Foodie Memoirs

Stories of life in and around food services will leave your mouth watering

After her father died, Molly Wizenburg didn’t know what to do with herself. So she went to Paris, and later, she started a blog. No spoilers here, so let’s just say I especially loved hearing about how the internet introduced the author to new, life-changing relationships. This memoir made me laugh, cry, check airfare to Paris, and curse my low carb diet. Completely and utterly charming, accompanied by tasty recipes.
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Wizenberg is one of the original food bloggers, and her brand of intimate, chatty conversation—mixed with reliable recipes—works well in long form. If you’re new to her work, you may enjoy starting with her first book A Homemade Life, in which, among other events, she meets and marries her husband Brandon after he contacts her through her blog. In this sequel-of-sorts, Brandon and a somewhat reluctant Molly have their first "baby": a pizza place named Delancey. In her familiar style, Wizenberg reflects on the messy and marvelous muddle that is her young marriage, and her younger restaurant, and shares recipes for the simple, delicious food that chefs like to eat at home.
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When Ruth Reichl takes the plum job of New York Times food critic, she’s determined to let ordinary diners know what the city’s great restaurants are really like. What's so hard about that? But she soon discovers that the Times food critic is no ordinary diner: her headshot adorns the wall of every kitchen in the city so the staff can spot her—and wow her. Not you. So Reichl goes undercover, enlisting the help of an old theater friend to become a sultry blond, a gregarious redhead, and a tweedy brunette, each with her own backstory. Her mission: to experience the city's great restaurants as just another diner. A fascinating read for any foodie, or student of human nature.
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If you've ever daydreamed about what it might be like to attend culinary school, wonder no longer: you can vicariously experience the training of a top-tier chef through the eyes of journalist Ruhlman, who talked his way into the CIA because he thought the resulting experience would make for a good book. He was right. Ruhlman finds the CIA to be a world of imposing personalities, towering egos, high drama, and amazing food. You'd never guess that the making of a brown sauce, the unmolding of a terrine, or the trussing of a chicken could be occasions for high drama, but in Ruhlman's hands, these culinary adventures read like the pages of a spy thriller. The first of a trilogy.
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If you're the type that tends to over-romanticize the City of Lights, let David Lebovitz snap you back to reality. As an American expat who chose to move to France, he loves Paris—but he also has no qualms about exposing the ridiculous, baffling, and frustrating side of le France. (I still laugh when I think of his claim that he didn't REALLY feel like he belonged until the day he put on dress pants and a freshly ironed shirt to take out the trash). Lebovitz's niche is food writing, and while you'll hear plenty of stories of navigating the city, you'll also find food on nearly every page. Plan to be inspired to make (or at least eat) French favorites like warm goat cheese salad, chocolate mousse, and macarons. A perfect read for those who have lived in Paris, been to Paris, or just want a good laugh.
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While shopping one night, Le Cordon Bleu grad Flinn bumps into a woman whose cart is filled with hyper-processed food. They strike up a conversation, and it turns out the woman simply can’t cook. Following this grocery store epiphany, Flinn collects 9 volunteers--all non-cooks--for weekly cooking lessons, and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is born. Flinn’s belief in the power of home cooking is contagious, and her foundational (and fantastic) recipes might just change the way you cook.
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Michael Ruhlman has written more than a dozen books on cooking and has worked with an impressive list of chefs (among them Thomas Keller, Michael Symon, Eric Ripert). Ruhlman knew since he was a kid that he wanted to write for a living, but he never intended to be a food writer. In this Kindle single (10,000 words/35 pages, and just $2), Ruhlman shares the improbable story of how he found his calling. Remember, he’s friends with Bourdain--this one’s briefly crude at two or three places.
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Imagine the best of the Food Network, with a lot more girl talk mixed in. Niequist's food writing will make your mouth water, but this book isn't just about the food. Her recipes are vehicles—to conversation, community, and all good things that happen when people gather around the table. Bread and Wine contains some great-looking recipes (Green Well salad, Michigan blueberry crisp, magical white bean soup) that will inspire you to get cooking. The short chapters make this perfect summer reading. Just clear your calendar for that dinner party you'll want to throw when you're finished with it.
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