A man once told me that he took no pleasure in food. To him, eating was a nuisance. I didn’t believe him and I interrogated him to see if this could really be true. He stood his ground but my suspicion was that he was never fed good food. Or maybe he had no taste buds. I couldn’t relate because I love food! Not only do I love eating and cooking food (in that order, ha ha) I also love reading about food!
My life-long friend Julie has usually lived in a different place than me. One of the reasons we’ve stayed friends for so long is that she is great at keeping in contact. I’ve always loved getting her letters (and now, emails). She’s a terrific writer of detail and always gives me a little snapshot of what she’s got going on in her kitchen, whether it’s baked oatmeal in the oven, a big crock of sauerkraut on her counter, or fresh herbs from her garden being prepared to cook or hung up to dry. I love this taste of her life that I get whenever I open a letter. I love to find this same type of “snapshot” in books.
We talk about this a lot at the library–going into a book, getting caught up in the other-world of the story… one way that authors get us caught up in that other-world is by providing us the details–hopefully delicious details of food! As humans we all share this love of food (except for my taste-budless friend) so it’s smart for authors to connect to their audiences this way.
I was talking with a patron about this the other day who shared my one caveat: I do not like books about food and murder. That creeps me out! This patron recommended to me an author: Laurie Colwin. She said “Oh, you will LOVE her!” And I found of course that I did love her! Laurie Colwin has a diverse range of books to her name, the first of which I read was More Home Cooking. I did not start with Home Cooking, although I have just received that by CCAR and plan to start on it tonight. More Home Cooking is a conglomeration of essays (written much like our blogs) on food. She has one chapter on lemons, one chapter on black beans, etc. The essays are partly funny and chatty and partly made up of recipes. She also shares my love of reading about food and has many recommendations including Elizabeth David’s Italian Food. I just started to read An Omelette and a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David which is very similar to Laurie Colwin’s type of cookbook prose, funny and interesting mixed in with delicious-seeming recipes. Colwin also writes fiction. I really enjoyed Happy All the Time which is sort of a love story, sort of a friendship story, and has that special attention to detail that is so essential to a good other-world. I’ve just now started A Big Storm Knocked it Over which already has made mention of a newly married couple’s first dinner meal as husband and wife. I’ve heard that Ruth Reichl is a great food writer as well, although I haven’t had a chance to read any of her writing yet. The titles sound delicious: Garlic & Sapphires and Comfort me with Apples…
My sister introduced me to Jim Gaffigan, a comedian, who jokes constantly about food. “It always goes back to food with him” as he says. I think his funniest video is Beyond the Pale, but King Baby and Doing My Time are very funny too.
Just for fun, I’ll give you a little snapshot of what is happening in my kitchen today. I have an amish friendship bread starter brewing on one counter and several jars of kombucha tea brewing on another. I have a dozen rice flour biscuits I made this morning which I threw some minced garlic into to make them extra delicious. I made a huge pot of minestrone soup which is simmering on the stove to go with the biscuits for my husband’s dinner while I’m working late tonight (I’ve got some of it in a thermos for myself). What do you have cookin’ at home?
Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at OWL and is currently munching and crunching on lovely garden lettuce…