Monday, June 29, 2015

6 Foodie Books You Should Definitely NOT Read While Hungry

Portions of this post originally appeared on Book Riot. I received copies of All For You and Mastering the Art of French Cooking for review consideration. For more on my review policies, please see my Full Disclosure page.

what did you eat yesterday fumi yoshinaga
What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga

Shiro Kakei is a lawyer, but he's not one of these lawyers who work sixty hours a week and spend their lives at their desks. No, Shiro happily takes the most boring cases so he can put in his eight hours and go home, where he throws himself into his true passion: cooking!

I was expecting a light, entertaining slice-of-life story with What Did You Eat Yesterday?, but it was much better and more powerful than I thought it would be. First of all, for being printed in black and white, the food looked and sounded crazy delicious. This was my face the entire time I was reading:

yum gif

Also, the recipes are kind of inspiring. As soon as I finished this manga, I started making side dishes for breakfast and dinner, trying to use up what we had in the fridge. I didn't consciously decide to start doing this, incidentally, it just seemed to happen naturally as an extension of reading the book. I have to agree with Shiro's boyfriend, Kenji, that adding side dishes makes the meal more satisfying. I began to feel so much healthier. Add to that Yoshinaga's beautiful, delicate drawings, awesome characters, and vignettes on how food can express love, carry memories, and is more than just following a recipe but also about using what you have and shopping for the best ingredients, and there really is nothing not to like about this manga.

Verdict: Definitely buy. In fact, after I returned What Did You Eat Yesterday? to the library, I bought a copy for myself, I loved it soooo much.

mystery writers of america cookbook
The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, ed. by Kate White

Death and food go together like sun and shade. Why? No one knows, except maybe Hannibal Lecter. In this cookbook, some of the greatest mystery writers in America (Scott Turow, Louise Penny, Mary Higgins Clark, Charlaine Harris, James Patterson, etc.) share their favorite recipes, from family standards to food straight out of their books.

For some crazy reason I decided to start reading this while I was waiting for dinner. Bad decision, or worst decision? The recipes were so good I started ROTFDMAO (rolling on the floor drooling my ass off). But even if you don't like to cook, this book is filled with entertaining stories and essays from mystery authors. I cried at Richard Castle's "pancakes are love," declaration, laughed at Nelson DeMille's Male Chauvinist Pigs in the Blanket recipe, and loved Lorenzo Carcaterra's story about Grandma Maria's Pasta Puttanesca. Lee Child closes the book out admirably with an essay on The Right Way to make coffee. The chapter on side dishes is pretty weak, but this is America we're talking about.

Verdict: Buy. Actually, this is another book I bought after borrowing from the library. Good ol library!

all for you laura florand
All For You by Laura Florand

Sassy and cute Célie is chef to one of the best chocolatiers in Paris, but her life wasn't always truffles and ganache. She grew up in the banlieue dreaming of marrying her brother's bestie, Joss, until he abandoned her to join the Foreign Legion. Now he's back, acting like nothing ever changed, and Célie has all the feels.

I've never been one of those people who get hungry or crave chocolate while reading a Laura Florand novel, although I do find her food descriptions to be fascinating and on fleek. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I can't eat chocolate, who knows. But with this book, I not only started craving chocolate, I had an entire dream about drinking hot chocolate, the one chocolate treat I really, really miss indulging in. It's kind of strange, considering that All For You is probably one of Florand's less food-centric novels. But then again, it did give me all the warm fuzzies. It's sweet and comforting and just what you need to lift your spirits, kind of like a cup of hot chocolate in book format.

Verdict: Buy.

The following books were ones I wanted to include in the above Buy, Borrow, Bypass, but life and work got in the way and I wasn't able to finish them before the deadline. However, I do still want to review them, so here they are!

taste test kelly fiore
Taste Test by Kelly Fiore

Nora is a small-town girl who grew up working in her dad's barbeque joint, but her dreams are much bigger than that. When she gets the chance to be on Taste Test, her favorite cooking competition show, she leaves District 11 her dad and BFF, Billy, to compete in an arena against kids from across the country. Only one can survive win the chance to study cooking in Paris. The problem is, can Nora trust the other contestants, particularly the infuriating and arrogant Christian Van Lorten?

In case you can't tell by the summary, this book reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games. Too bad that title was already taken, it would have been much better than Taste Test. Anywho, this was a really fun, quick read. I loooooooooove books where the two main characters fight all the time. Nora had a few moments where I thought her behavior was unreasonable or annoying, and the ending left almost everything completely unresolved, but the bottom line is this is the kind of book you can kick back and read in an afternoon when you're after some lighthearted entertainment. As for the food, all but one of the recipes were dumped in at the end, and none of them sounded particularly appetizing or easy to make. I wouldn't call this a book NOT to read while hungry.

Verdict: Buy or borrow.

the red notebook antoine laurain
The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

Laurent Letellier owns Le Cahier Rouge, a Parian bookstore. One day he stumbles upon an abandoned purse in the street and becomes obsessed with finding its owner after reading all the personal secrets she's written down in her little red notebook. She owns a red notebook, he owns a bookstore called The Red Notebook–clearly these two are meant to be together. But will they ever meet?

This is a charming, short novel in a similar vein to the movie Amélie, although not as fantastical and twee. It sounds like it could go into creeper territory but it really doesn't. I loved how there were a bunch of jokes you would probably only get if you spoke French–the name of Laurent's shop, for example; or the name of his daughter's cat, Putin, which can mean everything from damn to fuck depending on intonation (or the name of the Russian president, for that matter). Actually, now that I think about it, double meaning in names is kind of a theme in this book. As for why The Red Notebook is on this list, it's surprisingly chock full of delectable descriptions of food and drinking and eating, from pot-au-feu to hachis Parmentier. And if you don't know what either of those dishes are, don't worry–googling photos of them is half the fun. I started craving French food like whoa.

Verdict: Buy or borrow, but definitely read.

mastering the art of french eating ann mah
Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah

Francophile Ann Mah thought her dreams had come true when her hubby got a job in Paris. But just a few weeks after the big move, he had to go to the Middle East for a year, leaving Mah lonely and bored until this food writer finally had a lightbulb moment: she could write about French food! Using Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a travel guide, Mah set out to discover the stories "behind" the famous regional dishes of France.

Another day, another foodie memoir inspired by Julia Child. I mean, I get that she's a BFD to a whole generation of cooks and foodies, but it's getting to be a bit cliché at this point. I admit I had trouble getting into Mastering the Art of French Eating. I probably should have known better, seeing as how memoirs are not my thing, but I was expecting a lot more food in this book. Instead, it's mainly about Mah's struggles living as an expat–not just in Paris, but in other parts of the world (her hubby's in the diplomatic service). Which is fine, but I'm not super interested. I also thought the choices for and execution of Mah's quest were pretty damn lame. For Paris–the first chapter in the book no less–what dish does she choose? Steak and frites. Really? Out of all the dishes she could have written about? Giant snooze. In another chapter, Mah highlights two famous andouillette recipes of Troyes, but she doesn't even try them! At that point this book lost me. I will say, however, that the recipes at the back of each chapter sound tasty and I totally want to try them.

Verdict: Bypass, or borrow for the recipes.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...