20 tasty and tantalizing food memoirs

20 tasty and tantalizing food memoirs

Readers, with no events to attend or sports practices keeping us busy, family dinners have become a major thing in our house. I’m not talking Downton Abbey-style gowns and dinner jackets here, but our nightly meal has certainly become much more of an event than it was during pre-quarantine times.

As someone who loves to cook and spend time in the kitchen, I’ve appreciated the nudge to slow down while preparing and enjoying our meals. My cookbooks are getting lots of love lately as we revisit favorite recipes and find new ones to try.

I’m also finding fresh inspiration in one of my favorite literary genres: food memoir. Food is full of stories, from the family history behind a handed-down dish to juicy kitchen drama at a high-end restaurant to a culture’s roots and traditions.

Even if you don’t love to cook, perhaps you love to eat, and most certainly you enjoy a great story, well-told. Today’s list contains food memoirs from chefs, home-cooks, and food critics.

Perhaps one of these titles will inspire you to cook up a feast—or savor some delicious takeout. Much like your favorite meal, these food memoirs are sure to entertain, inspire, and comfort.

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A Homemade Life

A Homemade Life

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. More info →
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life Of A Critic In Disguise

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life Of A Critic In Disguise

Author:
This ostensibly foodie memoir is as much about identity as it is about fancy restaurants. 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. She soon discovers that the Times food critic is no ordinary diner: her headshot is pinned to the wall of every kitchen in the city so the staff can recognize and wow her. 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. A fascinating read for any foodie, or student of human nature. More info →
The Sweet Life In Paris: Delicious Adventures In The World’s Most Perplexing City

The Sweet Life In Paris: Delicious Adventures In The World’s Most Perplexing City

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 (but didn't feel like he really belonged until the day he put on dress pants and a freshly ironed shirt to take out the trash), he loves Paris—of course he does—but he also has no qualms about exposing the ridiculous, baffling, and frustrating side of le France. You'll be inspired to make (or at least eat) French favorites like warm goat cheese salad, chocolate mousse, and macarons. For those who have lived in Paris, been to Paris, or just want a good laugh. More info →
My Life in France

My Life in France

Author:
Julia's tales will entertain, inspire, and make you laugh out loud. Child didn't stumble into the world of French cooking until she was 36, when she moved to Paris with her husband Paul, who worked for the U.S. Foreign Service. It was 1948. Since she had no job and nothing else to do, she began shopping the French markets, learning the style, and taking cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. More info →
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

I included this memoir/cookbook mashup on the 2013 Summer Reading Guide. 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. More info →
Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential

Anthony Bourdain, how we miss you. This wild ride of a memoir, packed with what Bourdain calls "twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine," has taken on a special significance since Bourdain's untimely passing. Fair warning: this is intense. It's nothing like your typical food memoir. Great on audiobook. More info →
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

Author:
When Will and I visited a bookstore devoted exclusively to cookbooks and cooking books in Chicago a few years ago, this was my impulse buy. Colwin's chatty style is funny and endearing, and the book is so slim—and so enjoyable—I finished it in an afternoon. Highly recommended for fans of Ruth Reichl and Molly Weizenberg. More info →
Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris

Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris

Author:
Journalist Ann Mah moves to Paris when her diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment there. She’s overjoyed at the opportunity until he’s reassigned to Iraq for a year-long solo stint and must figure out life in Paris on her own. And so she does, one pain au chocolat and boeuf Bourguignon at a time. A thoroughly enjoyable read. More info →
My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes)

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes)

Author:
Luisa Weiss launched The Wednesday Chef to document her goal of cooking her way through her massive recipe collection. Living in New York at the time, she never stopped longing for home in Berlin and this is her account of how she finally decided to move back and all that ensued from there. More info →
Yes, Chef: A Memoir

Yes, Chef: A Memoir

World-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson went from helping in his grandmother’s kitchen to cooking in some of the most cut-throat restaurants in the world. Ethiopian and adopted by a white Swedish family when he was three, he shares how his Scandinavian heritage influenced his cooking style, as well as how he ultimately drew in African influences and advocates for recognition of African cuisine. He shares honestly about the ups and downs of the food world and how it made him the person he is today. More info →
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Chef Gabrielle Hamilton details her bohemian childhood and how she went from accidental cook fending for herself to opening her acclaimed restaurant Prune in NYC. Beautiful prose and an enthralling story. More info →
Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness

Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness

Author:
Food blogger Sasha Martin sets a goal to cook and eat a meal from every country in the world. In the process, she makes peace with her difficult childhood and undergoes a journey of self-acceptance. A heartfelt and empowering read. More info →
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

With growing concerns about the environmental impact of their food consumption, Barbara Kingsolver and her family vow to eat only what they can grow, catch, or locally source for an entire year. What follows is a family memoir, a gardening how-to guide, and a treatise on sustainability as Kingsolver chronicles their adventures in farm-to-table living. More info →
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home

Author:
In this grief memoir, actress Tembi Locke's husband died young. Locke sets out to tell a story of how she fell in love with her husband though perhaps they didn't look on the surface like they belong together because of race, class, and culture; how they overcame a lot to be together; why he meant everything to her; why losing him was so painful for her; and why it's a story that needed to be told. Locke does a great job telling how she found him, how food and chance brought them together. His Sicilian family was not wild about him marrying an African-American woman from America and that splintered the family for many years and seemed like would break them forever. She shows how love and perserverance really did conquer all. This was beautiful; I'm glad I read it. If you love grief memoirs—and I'm not saying that ironically, some people really truly do—I thought this was excellent. More info →
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir

Author:
I've adored Reichl’s food writing in the past, but if I wasn’t a devoted Gourmet magazine reader, would I be interested in reading the book aptly subtitled "My Gourmet Memoir"? The answer: YES!! The story begins in 1999, when Reichl is offered (another) dream job: to take the helm at Gourmet, with free reign to make the staid publication relevant to today's cooks. Reichl dishes like a gossipy friend, sharing the behind-the-scenes scoop on the big picture, like livening up Gourmet’s stuffy culture, and the specific, like what was going through her head when she published David Foster Wallace's notorious piece "Consider the Lobster." Gourmet’s rise—and fall—is intimately connected with the publishing trends of the aughts, and as a reader and writer I found her take on her company’s troubles captivating. This is pure delight from start to finish. If you love it, read Garlic and Sapphires next, her un-put-down-able story of her years as the New York Times food critic. More info →
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Renowned culinary historian Michael Twitty traces his family roots (both Black and white) from Africa to America and the history of Southern cuisine in this richly drawn memoir. It's a substantial, detailed read, which gives ample space to both personal and culinary history; I appreciated Twitty's distinctive style of storytelling. More info →
Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

Author:
In his new memoir, foodie, food writer, and former New Yorker fiction editor Buford shares another first-hand account of his time in the kitchen. In a quest to deepen his culinary training, Buford and his wife, wine expert Jessica Green, move to France with their twin three-year-old boys. They intended to stay for six months so Buford could cook, but after settling in Lyon they extended their visit—and stayed for five years. A lush, detailed, and vividly drawn account of esteemed French kitchens, and the culture that makes their grand food possible. More info →
Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat

Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat

Author:
I knew of Achatz (chef at Chicago's Alinea) but I didn't know the whole story. I knew that in 2003, the James Beard Foundation named Achatz Rising Star Chef of the Year; in 2006, Gourmet Magazine named Alinea the best restaurant in America. But I didn't know that in 2007, Achatz was diagnosed with late-stage tongue cancer, and the treatment plan left the chef with no sense of taste–an irony his business partner Kokonas dubbed "Shakespearean." (Thankfully, his sense of taste later returned.) This memoir describes Achatz's path to founding Alinea from his childhood family-restaurant days, and his battle with tongue cancer. I could hardly put it down. (Warning: there's a little salty language.) More info →
The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart

The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart

Author:
In the span of a few weeks, former New Yorker editor Emily Nunn grieves the death of her brother, her fiance breaks up with her, and she's evicted from their apartment. She pours her heart out on Facebook and is stunned by the many friends and family members who invite her to stay with them while she figures out what's next. She seeks treatment for alcoholism and then begins her Comfort Food Tour. Wherever she stays, they talk about the role of food in our lives and try different recipes. Comfort food can't heal all wounds but it, along with people who love us, can get us started. More info →
The Language of Baklava: A Memoir

The Language of Baklava: A Memoir

Diana Abu-Jaber grew up with a Jordanian father who loved to cook. Her memoir explores the two cultures of her childhood—American and Jordanian—and what it was like to be a part of both. A rich story of identity, relationships, and the food that forms us. More info →
The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

Kristin Kimball fell in love with a farmer and traded her NYC life for one in the country. She shares how they reached their ambitious goal of growing everything needed to feed a community. For anyone who's ever wondered just what all goes into running a farm. Spoiler alert: a whole lot of hard work. More info →
Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir

Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir

You may recognize Kwame Onwuachi's name from his stint on Top Chef. But before that, he started his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars he made selling candy on the subway in NYC and worked in notable restaurants across the country. By age 27, not only had he competed on Top Chef, he served dinner to Present Obama at the White House and closed his fine dining restaurant shortly after opening it. He's honest about his mistakes but he also delves into the racism he's experienced in the various kitchens he’s worked in. His voice is a welcome addition to the food memoir canon. More info →
Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home

Jessica Fechtor had a brain aneurysm at age 28 and nearly died. The kitchen played a big role in her recovery: she can't work or study so instead, she cooks. She explores the restorative qualities of food and the ways we use it to nourish ourselves and others. A moving read. More info →
Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow

Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow

Where others would see a long-abandoned property as a lost cause, Tara Austen Weaver saw promise. Through the course of fixing the house and overhauling the expansive garden and orchard, she and her mother learn to reconnect. As the garden blooms with the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors, so does their relationship. Reading this will make you want a garden of your own. More info →
Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

Writer Madhur Jaffrey is well-known for cookbooks and here she invites readers into learning about her upbringing in Delhi. Family dinners consisted of 40 or more relatives gathered together over flavorful dishes that impacted the way Jaffrey sees food. But she was also impacted by Partition, which tore her family's world apart. Her most enduring food memories are connected to the land: climbing mango trees, sampling street fare, and more, making for a unique and memorable read. More info →

What favorite food memoirs would you add to this list?

20 tasty and tantalizing food memoirs

109 comments | Comment

109 comments

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  1. Rachel says:

    A lot of these books sound really interesting! I didn’t even know food memoirs were a thing. I’m not a big fan of cooking but I do love trying new foods.

    • Amy says:

      Dinner: A Love Story would be one of my picks. It’s probably shelved with cookbooks, but the essays before the recipes makes the whole thing read more like a memoir. The author had two kids in less than two years, and I read it for the first time when my two-under-two set were still really little, and I completely related to everything she said about how two babies totally upends your coooking and eating routines. I loved it, and have made her pizza crust recipe nearly every Saturday night for 6 or 7 years.

  2. Niamh says:

    Ah! My favourite niche non-fiction genre: the food memoir! There are so many on here that I’ve read and enjoyed – plus a few new discoveries. A couple that I’ve loved are ‘Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone’ edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler, ‘The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry: Love, Laughter and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School’ by Kathleen Flinn, ‘A Half Baked Idea: How grief, love and cake took me from the courtroom to Le Cordon Bleu’ by Olivia Potts, ‘Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl: A memoir of food, family, film and fashion’ by Kay Plunkett-Hogge. There are so many more – both to read and discover. A great list!

  3. Leanne says:

    Julia and Julie, Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, I Loved I Lost I Made Spaghetti, The Pleasure of Cooking for One, My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story.

  4. Sherry Johnson says:

    While not a memoir, but fiction, my favorite Ruth Reichl book is “Delicious”. I reread this often and I love it anew each time!

  5. Nicole says:

    Oooh, one my favorite genres – thanks for some new titles to add to my TBR! A few others: Delancey by Molly Wizenberg; Love in a Tuscan Kitchen by Sheryl Ness; Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser; We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by José Andrés; Love, Loss and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi; The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacqués Pepin. I could keep going but I’ll stop! Wait, one more, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl. Looking forward to seeing more recommendations!

    • Mary Kay says:

      I loved “Cooking for Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser. She also wrote one about her year working as a chef at a French chateau called “The Cook and the Gardener”, which is a memoir/cookbook mashup. Other cookbooks that are part memoirs that I love are “How to Celebrate Everything” and “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea”.

  6. Monica Wilson says:

    I love Ruth Reichl books!
    A brand new food memoir is Almost Home by Fanny Singer about growing up with her mother, a chef and restaurant owner in Berkeley.

  7. Sylvia Teasley says:

    The Feast Nearby is my favorite. It is the book that enticed me to read food memoirs. Now, I’m hooked! I’ve read most of the above, but can’t wait to try a few I haven’t.

  8. Brenda says:

    Thank you for this list. I love this genre , have read most , discovered new ones and more again from the comment section. Am currently reading Dirt by Bill Burford.

  9. JennSev says:

    Yay for food memoirs! Love, love some on this list, and the others are being added to my to-read pile post-haste!

  10. Hildred Sullivan says:

    David Lebovitz’s Drinking French is my new favorite. It shares his experience of the French café culture that he loves, combining stories of his trips to various spirit makers to learn their histories with delicious cocktail and other café drink recipes. In addition, during recent weeks, David has been sharing his time on Instagram demonstrating the recipes and interviewing the spirit makers live. A real bonus!

  11. Annie B says:

    I suggest More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin; Voracious by Cara Nicoletti; Take Big Bites by Linda Ellerbee. I have read most of the ones you list, but not all and I am also a big fan of food memoirs.

  12. Lydia Langston says:

    I love Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine! Her style of writing and recipes are incredible. This book makes me want to sit at her table and just soak up her wisdom with a plate of Blueberry crisp and a glass of wine.

  13. This is one of my favorite genres! I actually did a roundup post on it a few years ago, which I’ll link to below if anyone is interested.

    Some recent favorites or new releases that I want to read soon include Always Home (written by the daughter of Alice Waters), Let Them Eat Pancakes, Everything Is Under Control. I also enjoyed Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine, though that has a definite religious slant to it.

    So excited to add some of these titles to my list! I had heard of or already read many of them, but I’m really excited about the others!

    https://www.toloveandtolearn.com/2018/03/07/14-books-for-the-foodie/

  14. Claire says:

    I love this genre and had read many of the books, but found some I haven’t. One to add from my list is Iliana Regan’s Burn the Place. The more modern version of Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones and Butter.

    There are a lot of good fiction books set around food. How about that list next?

  15. Kelly says:

    Additional books that could be added to the list are:
    Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes – This book includes recipes.
    Let Them Eat Cake and Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd – fun afternoon reads
    The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan – novel set during WWII

    I read another book where a NY journalist went to live in Paris and she made note and map of the patisseries around where she lived. She included the addresses and her favorite pastries at each. I can’t remember the title and I can’t find the book on my bookshelf. I must have loaned it out some time ago.

      • Karen says:

        I love this genre! One that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Kitchen Yarns by Ann Good. Another favorite is Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flynn.

  16. Regina says:

    I love Peter Mayle’s books – besides A Year in Provence, He’s written a memoir of traveling to food festivals throughout France and a book on bread baking.
    For mostly fiction, I love A Literary Feast, Which contains short fiction and memoirs.

  17. Melinda Malaspino says:

    Love by the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher is a must for wine lovers.
    My favorites listed above are Yes, Chef; Kitchen Confidential; and My Paris Life.
    I want to read more by Anthony Gourds in, and I have Ruth Reichl in my Kindle sue.
    Books, wine, and food–my favorites!

  18. Melinda Malaspino says:

    Love by the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher is a must for wine lovers.
    My favorites listed above are Yes, Chef; Kitchen Confidential; and The Sweet Life in Paris.
    I want to read more by Anthony Gourds in, and I have Ruth Reichl in my Kindle sue.
    Books, wine, and food–my favorites!

  19. Susie says:

    I’m not so interested in food and recipes as I am in good, enjoyable writing and a sense of place (read: France). Which of these 20 would you say fits the bill? I have enjoyed My Life in France, Julie and Julia, The Sweet Life in Paris, and savored every well-written word of Animal, Vegetable and Miracle, but did not relish Garlic and Sapphires or The Sharper Your Knife, they both fell flat for me. One set of books I would add to this list is from the delicious Elizabeth Bard, with her Lunch in Paris and Picnic in Provence. I went out and bought them after reading from the library.

    • Renee says:

      Mastering the Art of French Eating would be a great one for you! Ann Mah is a great writer and I really enjoyed how she took me all over France in that book. Try it, you’ll like it!

  20. Heather says:

    Omigosh this list is amazing. I read while simultaneously searched my local library online catalogue to place holds on all the titles that jumped out to me. Looks like it is going to be a tasty summer!

  21. Sarah says:

    Bread and Wine by Shauna Neiquest. One of my all time favorite reads. It made me want to gather friends around our table and cook delicious meals as we share life together. Recipes included!

    • Libby says:

      Seconding this! This book is the antidote to the folks who read Animal Vegetable Miracle and get grand plans that they too shall grow all their own food and butcher their own meat. I was literally laughing out loud at the turkey and goat bits in Jennifer’s book.

  22. Kay says:

    The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater is a wonderful memoir of food and his life within a year. His food is wonderful but his writing is exquisite, volume one is my favourite. Also The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater is his celebration of Christmas starting some months early in preparation for the event. Beautiful reading, this is my bedtime reading every winter.

    • Letitia says:

      Oh yes Nigel Slater! Also re read Christmas Chronicles every year – beautiful book physically too, with gorgeous photos. His memoir Toast – a story of one boy’s hunger is wonderful too – was made into a lovely movie a few years ago. Another British wonder is Nigella Lawson – her books are mainly recipes but with lovely contextual asides and warm witty family anecdotes. I have all her books and she’s been beside me as I learned to cook over 20 years.

  23. Thanks for a great list! I love cooking and just wrote a blog post featuring some of these, including Save Me the Plums & The Sweet Life in Paris! Now, the question is, which of these on your list to read first?

  24. Beth says:

    I would add Michael Ruhlman. Soul of a Chef got me started in this genre. Enjoyed a couple of his other books, too and the rest are on my TBR.
    Thanks for the list! Adding a few that I haven’t read to my TBR!

  25. Meagan says:

    I love Ruth Reichl’s books. I am sad that I never had a chance to read Gourmet Magazine when she was still the editor (and it still existed). I read two at the start of the pandemic and they were both great reads. The way that she writes has my mouth watering (and I am NOT an adventurous eater in real life), she just describes food SO well.
    I’m excited to check out more books in this genre!

  26. Jessica says:

    Possibly my favorite genre! I’ve read about half the books on this list and Kitchen Confidential was one of my favorites because I actually listened to it on audiobook, which was narrated by Anthony Bourdain. Another favorite that isn’t on the list is Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen by Dalia Jurgensen. That title is a huge mouthful!

    I’m a huge fan of audiobooks because I can often do other things while I listen. My favorite thing is listening to books about food while I cook! Recently listened to Ruth Reichl’s Delicious! and that was such a fun one.

  27. Olivia says:

    What a fabulous list! I’ve read four of these listed and just added several to my WTR list. Memoirs are one of my favorite genres, and in the subcategory of food- a double win.

  28. Jan says:

    Two older books, but still well worth reading: Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes (turned into the 2003 movie starring Diane Lane), and a year in Provence, by Peter Mayle.

    • Robin says:

      I love food memoirs & have a number of them on this list, and have had a couple others on my TBR list. Now I have more to add! Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. I also enjoy the writings of MK Fisher, especially when she writes about France.

  29. GIVE A GIRL A KNIFE by Amy Thielen is super fascinating. It talks about her and her husband’s early years working in restaurants in NYC and then traveling around North America to eventually moving back to Northern Minnesota. She used to have a Food Network show called Heartland Table.

    • Stefanie Nordstrom says:

      I have Thielen’s memoir on my shelves waiting to be read. I actually got it signed at an event she had in NE Mpls. Her cookbook The New Midwestern Table is a favorite of mine!

  30. Jeannette says:

    I would add On Rue Tatin by Susan Hermann Loomis. It is memoir of a young American couple who moved to Normandy France, bought and restored an old monastery to create a home and a cooking school. It is the story of learning French ways in the kitchen and in life, of rearing young children in a different culture, of making friends and finding one’s way. Recipes intersperse this lovely story.

  31. Alyson Shirley says:

    Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite books. Remembering meals throughout her life that have made an impact on her. Really thought provoking!

  32. Shelley Taylor says:

    Thank you for this list! I see some old favorites along with several new to me titles that look interesting.

  33. jacqueline ramlogan says:

    All of Ruth Reichl’s books are fantastic. “My Kitchen Year” is filled with gorgeous pictures and recipes.

  34. Kate says:

    In the vein of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is “Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food” by Megan Kimble. Very interesting about how our food is processed. Spoiler alert: in one chapter, Megan decides to process her own meat, from the live animal to her table.

    • Alison says:

      I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and the title of the second book you mention sounded fascinating…until I saw your alert. I may be too squeamish to read it, but good to know of it, thanks!

      • Libby says:

        If you want something substantially less graphic, try Make the Bread Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese! She decided to try and make everything by scratch, then calculate whether the storebought version or homemade version was cheaper, tasted better, and whether from scratch was worth the effort. She has a really funny bit about it being a rite of passage for food writers nowadays to stare down their future chicken dinner and take it’s own life to meditate on the responsibility of being a meat eater…and she just kinda butchers a chicken and thinks “yep, nothing profound here, I am eating a bird like I ate thousands of birds before.” Really funny! And the recipes in it are great!

  35. SoCalLynn says:

    This is one of my favorite genres. I’ve read several of these, but I see quite a few I need to get to. Not exactly food memoir, but I think Peter Mayle’s books about living in Provence are excellent. His descriptions of food and wine there always makes me hungry.

  36. Nancy H. Hall says:

    What a great subject – especially when we are all cooking more than before. My favorites are: Laurie Colwin’s “Home in the Kitchen”, “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” by Judith Jones with recipes that can always be expanded and “Potluck at Midnight Farm” by Tamara Weiss – full of fun and recipes.

  37. Talia says:

    Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard is my absolute favourite food memoir. And it has a sequel… Picnic in Provence.

  38. Lindsay says:

    Have any of you read The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon? I bought it upon several friends’ recommendations, but I haven’t read it yet.

  39. Love this list! Food memoirs are one of my favorite things to read. They’re older books, but I recommend anything by M.F.K. Fisher–everything she writes is about eating and cooking and all our hungers. The Gastronomical Me charts her development as an eater and as a cook, and is so good. The Art of Eating collects a number of books of hers in one volume. Every time I read her I want to share good food with people I love.

    This is from a review of The Gastronomical Me: “Because The Gastronomical Me is autobiographical, following Mrs. Fisher from childhood to widowhood in different countries, we are able to see its food not only as a matter of personal taste, but as a perpetual emotional and social force within a life. Here are meals as seductions, educations, diplomacies, communions. Unique among the classics of gastronomic writing, with its glamorous but not glamorized settings, its wartime drama and its powerful love story, The Gastronomical Me is a book about adult loss, survival, and love.” ―Patricia Storace, The New York Review of Books

    • Karen says:

      The preface to The Gastronomical Me is one of the prettiest pieces of writing I have ever read. (Well, the whole small book is one of the prettiest pieces of writing I’ve ever read.) So good.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve only read a few M.F.K. Fisher essays and I’ve been meaning to read one of her longer works for years! Thanks for sharing this rec.

  40. Libby says:

    I loved A Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo. She’s an American woman who married a Lebanese man and moved to the Middle East with him. They live in Iraq and travel around other parts of the Middle East, and she describes the culture around food so vividly you can practically smell it. The tone suits 2020 well too, because she’s describing all this uncertainty with the war, but all that high emotion and drama is juxtaposed with the the everyday activity of needing to eat.

  41. Jocele says:

    Oh, Anne, you did it again…expanded my TBR yet again! This is definitely one of my favorite genres! I’ve read several of these (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of my favorite books of all time and one of my very rare rereads), but now, thanks to this, I have my work cut out for me. Thanks, Anne!!

  42. Shoshana says:

    Any and all Ruth Reichl and Laurie Colwin books. Molly o’Neill’s Mostly True, Lucy Knisley’s graphic book French Milk, Born Round by Frank Bruni are all wonderful.

  43. Brit Wall says:

    The Measure of My Powers by Jackie Kai Ellis is an absolute favorite of mine. Also, Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent. While it’s not quite ‘memoir’, it’s a touching non-fiction read that revolves around food, cooking and connection.

  44. Heather Hale says:

    This is my favorite genre and I have been looking for more to add to my list. Thanks everyone! I have read many of these, but now have many more to read. I couple others I’ve enjoyed are My Life From Scratch by Gesine Bullock-Prado and 52 Loaves by William Alexander.

  45. So many books, so little time! I second (third?) the recs for “Cooking for Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser and also for A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun. Kitchen Confidential and My Life in France are two of my favorite books of all time. As a chef now food blogger who moved to Paris last year, I feel like I need to write a memoir–so many of these wonderful books are about France, and Paris. I’m a big David Lebovitz fan as well and got to go to his book signing for Drinking French before the lockdowns hit. Awesome guy, and I highly recommend all his books.

  46. Sarah Baker says:

    This has been my favorite genre! I have read all of Ruth Reichl books and most on this list and have just purchased others on this list for a summer read so thank you. I would recommend 32 Yolks by Eric Ripert, Clementine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain, Shucked: Like on a New England Oyster Farm and loved The Apprentice by Jacques Pepin

  47. First of all, thank you Anne so much. I needed this post right now. This is my favorite genre and just about every other book (in between MMD Book Club) I read is now a chef memoir or a book written about culinary travel. I have read many on Anne’s list, but started a new list because of all the great suggestions! Thank you one and all!

    Here are two that I don’t think were in the comments:
    1. It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time By Moira Hodgson – The author grew up as a child of a foreign diplomat and lived all over the world. You can’t believe her life is real. It’s a page-turner.
    2. Living in a Foreign Language: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Love in Italy by Michael Tucker – Do you remember LA Law? Michael Tucker and his wife Jill Eikenberry bought a home in Italy and all of the details about their life in Italy and Italian cooking are divine!

  48. Ashley says:

    Can we just talk about your comment “bookstore devoted exclusively to cookbooks and cooking”….why aren’t there more bookstores like this!

  49. Laura says:

    Maman’s Homesick Pie:a Persian heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan is really well done! A memoir of growing up in Iran pre-Revolution, exile, life in SF and France. Moving tribute to her mother.

  50. Kara says:

    This is one of my favorite genres! Thanks for this list – I’ve read a handful – Animal,Vegetable, Miracle and Blood Bones & Butter are two of my favs – always recommending them. I can’t wait to read more from this list! Also on my list to read is (new I think) the memoir Rebel Chef – by Dominique Crenn. Thank you!! Also, a bookststore dedicated to cookbooks and books about cooking- heaven!!

  51. Lori Erokan says:

    Food memoirs is one of my favorite genres. I’ve read a few of these, will happily try some of the others. I loved “The Best Cook In the World,” by Rick Bragg, about his mother’s Southern cooking in good times but mostly hard times (combined with Bragg’s hilarious and occasionally very sad family stories). Also, “Miriam’s Kitchen,” by Elizabeth Ehrlich, was very interesting and emotional for me. It’s the story of a young secular Jewish woman who enriches her faith and understanding of her culture as she cooks with her mother-in-law Miriam, a Holocaust survivor.

  52. We read Chef Greg Atkinson’s At the Kitchen Table for our Preheated Baking Podcast book club in Episode 121: Hope Into Spring with Hot Cross Buns. Great story about building community and cooking your own food.

  53. Marguerite says:

    Here are 3 foodie reads that are worth the time and calories:
    My Life from Scratch by Gesine Bullock-Prado, Kitchen Gypsy by Joanne Weir, and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. Both Weir and Nosrat began their culinary careers at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse.

  54. Letitia says:

    Elizabeth Luard hasn’t been mentioned – perhaps less known in the US (tho her praise is on the front cover of Ruth Reich’s To the Bone). Wonderful writer- lived in various parts of Europe bringing up four children – often alone as her husband traveled (prominent British journalists both of them). Very un squeamish, willing to learn from all around her – whether able to speak their language or not – often very funny, atmospheric, warm stories: Squirrel Pie, Flavours of Andalusia, A Cooks Year in a Welsh Farmhouse – my favourite. Luard is also a talented artist and these grace the pages of many of her books – the three mentioned. She also has a book of beautiful strip cartoon recipes coming out soon (ish?) She showed some at a book event – gorgeous!

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