The best books to make you hungry

Who am I?

I’m a French-born, London-based novelist and food writer. As an author, I have nurtured my voice at the kitchen counter, where I find language loosens up and as a reader, cookbooks, food memoirs, and novels sit in one pile on my bedside table. Food is never not political and I find that its depiction is a wonderful narrative tool, for plot development with the setting of a meal or to portray a character through ingredients for examples. The relationship between food, culture, and writing is something I also explore with my podcast, book club, and culinary community The Salmon Pink Kitchen. Happy reading, and bon appétit! 


I wrote...

The Yellow Kitchen

By Margaux Vialleron,

Book cover of The Yellow Kitchen

What is my book about?

London, 2019. A yellow kitchen stands as a metaphor for the lifelong friendship between three women: Claude, the baker, goal-orientated Sophie, and political Giulia. They are chasing life and careers; dating, dreaming, and consuming but always returning to be reunited in the yellow kitchen. That is, until a trip to Lisbon unravels unexplored desires between Claude and Sophie. 

A novel of belonging and friendship, The Yellow Kitchen is a hymn to the last year of London as we knew it and a celebration of the culture, the food, and the rhythms we live by.

The books I picked & why

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Swan Song

By Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott,

Book cover of Swan Song

Why this book?

If you enjoy a long novel, gossip, and the dark side of life, then look no further. 

Based on the true story of the women whom Truman Capote called ‘his swans,’ and who deserted him after he had published an indiscreet short story about their lives in Esquire, Swan Song is filled with socialite glitters and cocktails. From meals eaten on planes to the high-end restaurants of New York City, food and drinks are key to the novel’s development. 

My personal highlight is the account of Babe Paley’s last meal, which was served after her funeral and which she had organised herself while being ill with lung cancer. ‘The luncheon to end all luncheons,’ as writes Greenberg-Jephcott, is a wonderful example of how the description of a meal can portray a character brilliantly.


The Edwardians

By Vita Sackville-West,

Book cover of The Edwardians

Why this book?

I devoured this modern classic comedy of manners like a good period drama. 

The novel follows the adolescent years of Sebastian, duke and heir of the country house Chevron, where his mother Lucy plots luncheons and indulges parties where alcohol, games, and affairs are the prime guests. The tone is witty and the food, from the ingredients on display to the behaviours of those who eat, is used as a powerful show of appearances.


Unsettled Ground

By Claire Fuller,

Book cover of Unsettled Ground

Why this book?

We’re back on the darker side of life with a book that mixes anger and hunger for a compulsive read. 

51 years old twins Jeanie and Julius live with their mother Dot in rural isolation and poverty. They make music and sustain their diet with what they grow in their garden and bread, until Dot dies suddenly and life as the siblings knew it is gone. The family history is confined and the writing lyrical in this incisive portrait of life as outsiders. 

Unsettled Ground shows that food is political and I love how Fuller depicts class issues through the descriptions of food shopping, gardening, and cooking.


Heartburn

By Nora Ephron,

Book cover of Heartburn

Why this book?

This semi-autobiographical novel follows the romantic misadventures of food writer Rachel, whose husband has fallen in love with another woman. Lost between wanting him dead and wanting him back, Rachel shares her favourite recipes to heal the heart along with hilarious one-liners. 

Be ready to crave mashed potatoes with this absolute classic in the genre. If you’re still unsure, the audiobook is read by Meryl Streep, who also starred in the movie aside Jack Nicholson.


The Pachinko Parlor

By Elisa Shua Dusapin, Aneesa Abbas Higgins (translator),

Book cover of The Pachinko Parlor

Why this book?

If you’re looking for a novel that will make your mouth water with flavours and cravings, then Elisa Shua Dusapin is the writer you need. From the supermarket’s chilled section to hot pots of noodles, the pages of this short novel are an explosion for the senses. But the descriptions of the food are not only delicious, they also serve the purpose of the plot in this novel set over the course of one summer in Tokyo, about identity, loneliness, and language.

The Pachinko Parlour is translated from French into English by Aneesa Abbas Higgins and will be published in the UK on 18th August 2022.


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