Food culture is both a booming industry and a booming hobby. From the seemingly boundless well of programming available on the Food Network to the endless world of food blogs, food is an adventure, a destination and an obsession.
Whether you long for the meals from your family table or consider yourself a hardcore foodie, out for the unusual and adventurous, there is a memoir involving food to suit your tastes. This happens to be one of my favorite memoir sub-genres, so some of these recommendations are newly published while others are long-time favorites.
Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal, by Ava Chin. A writer for the New York Times, Chin covers a topic alien to most...foraging. Beyond simple foraging, she's foraging in New York City where the conditions can be less than ideal thanks to pollution and foot traffic. In this memoir, she mingles her foraging with her life and the pursuit of healthy relationships and good eats.
Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg, is a memoir full of heart and soul...and pizza! When her husband decides he wants to open an upscale pizza restaurant in Seattle, Wizenberg thinks it's just another passing fancy, but as the realization that it's really going to happen hits home, she is less than thrilled. Wizenberg writes as if she's chatting with a friend over a glass of wine.
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, by Ruth Reichl, is a staple in the pantry of foodie non-fiction. Reichl, former editor of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine and long-time food critic for the New York Times, she can spin a hilarious and heartfelt yarn about her family and growing up with food.
Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, by Anthony Bourdain, is the latest from this culinary bad boy. His writing career began with the food industry exposé and memoir, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, back in 2000. While Bourdain may have softened some of his opinions over time, he is still a force of nature in the food world with a touching reverence for his industry brothers and sisters.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley, is perhaps the quirkiest of these quirky memoirs. Hers is a memoir in pictures...a comic book, or graphic novel if you'd rather, about growing up with gourmand parents and how her upbringing shaped her own tastes. While she enjoys a high-end meal as much as her parents, she's not above a lovesong to junk food. She even throws in some recipes.