Thursday, July 17, 2014
Summer Food Reads
Summer is for...good beach reads. Or good reads wherever you find yourself on a nice day with a few hours to relax. These are the food-related books that I've either read, am reading or am otherwise interested in this summer.
A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford. This beautifully written memoir details a season Crawford spent on his family's small Pennsylvania farm after abandoning his 9-to-5 life in Boston with girlfriend (now wife) in tow. Titling such a book with a reference to death might be an unexpected move, yet it's an apt title, referencing the powerful cycle of life-and-death that plays out on the farm each year as well as the murder of a neighbor that happened during Crawford's childhood that is a running thread through his story.
I particularly enjoyed this book because the subject farm--New Morning Farm--is the one where I buy my produce every Saturday morning. Reading pages 204-212, which detail said Saturday morning but from the point of view of the market workers, was a real treat, giving me a deeper appreciation for the vegetables and fruits I have been buying there over the years. In fact, I draw a significant amount of inspiration from the wonderful produce I buy there (see this recipe, this recipe, this recipe, this recipe, this recipe, this recipe, this recipe and this recipe, for example).
The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax. I've recently started reading Sax's insightful examination of food trends, which discusses not just what the trends are but the factors that bring them to prominence. He starts with the once-humble cupcake, formerly served mostly at elementary school birthday parties but now an adult indulgence churned out in endless varieties from high-end bakeries in every major city in the country. I can't wait to see what other trends he tackles.
Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg. The title of this memoir, Delancey, refers to the Seattle pizza restaurant Wizenberg started with her husband. When I mentioned to a coworker I was going to read this, she got excited, having discovered Wizenberg through her popular blog, Orangette. I'm only a little ways into the book, which is clearly about more than just the restaurant, but I'm already loving Wizenberg's warm, witty writing style.
The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber. Has Barber emerged as the most prominent voice in the farm-to-table movement? Quite possibly. With The Third Plate, the Blue Hill chef critiques that movement while imploring its followers and practitioners to move a step further. If you've read any of the recent interviews Barber's done to promote the book, it's clear what his bent is. Although I haven't yet read any it, it's been recommended to me and sounds like it would appeal to fans of books like those by author Michael Pollan.
The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. This book I wrote about earlier this summer as part of my summer cocktails week. I thought I'd include it again though for cocktail fans. Unlike most cocktail books, this isn't just a collection of recipes, but rather an informative treatise on proper cocktail-making techniques, inter spliced with Morgethaler's stories about his experience in the bartending industry. One of the few cocktail books that is quite an enjoyable cover-to-cover read.