10 books like On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like On Food and Cooking. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson,

Book cover of The Oxford Companion to Food

With entries on foods from Aardvark to Zucchini, this wonderful, wide-ranging reference book has a place of honour by my desk. The idea of a global guide to foodstuffs was conceived of by Alan Davidson in 1976 – before the digital age – and first published in 1999. Davidson, who edited it, brought his intellectual curiosity, knowledge, and humour to the project. The result is a seminal reference book which instead of being dull or stodgy is lively, engaging, and interesting. A book that I never tire of using, as always come across something that catches my attention in the most beguiling way.

The Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Companion to Food as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

the best food reference work ever to appear in the English language ... read it and be dazzled'
Bee Wilson, New Statesman

First published in 1999, the ground-breaking Oxford Companion to Food was an immediate success and won prizes and accolades around the world. Its blend of serious food history, culinary expertise, and entertaining serendipity, was and remains unique.

Interest in food, cooking, and the culture surrounding food has grown enormously in the intervening period, as has the study of food and food history. University departments, international societies, and academic journals have sprung up dedicated to exploring the meaning of…


Much Depends on Dinner

By Margaret Visser,

Book cover of Much Depends on Dinner

This wonderful, engaging book will change the way you think about food. Margaret Visser unpicks an “ordinary meal” in North America, digging beneath the surface of everyday ingredients such as butter, lettuce and chicken to reveal fascinating stories. Visser – who writes with a shrewd and perceptive intelligence - weaves together history, science and social observation to great effect. The ‘ordinary’ meal proves to be no such thing.

Much Depends on Dinner

By Margaret Visser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Much Depends on Dinner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An excursion into the origins and background of an ordinary dinner: corn on the cob, chicken with rice, lettuce salad and ice-cream. Tracing the historical, cultural, agricultural and social strands that run through their history, the author presents the reader with an "anthropology of everyday life". This book was the winner of the 1990 Glenfiddich Award for the Food Book of the Year. The author also wrote "The Rituals of Dinner".


Hungry City

By Carolyn Steel,

Book cover of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives

Such an important, relevant, and well-written book. Carolyn Steel traces the journey food takes to feed our cities – from the land where it is grown to the waste dumps, where its decay causes environmental degradation. It is a book that looks forward as well as to the past. Hungry City ends with a rallying cry to create a better food system – better for us, for society, for the planet. ‘How food shapes our lives in our future is up to us,’ writes Steel.

Hungry City

By Carolyn Steel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hungry City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*According to the Trussell Trust, food bank use between April and Sept 2018 was up 13% on the same period in 2017.*

*Every year in the UK 18 million tonnes of food end up in landfill.*

Why is this the case and what can we do about it?

The relationship between food and cities is fundamental to our everyday lives. Food shapes cities and through them it moulds us - along with the countryside that feeds us. Yet few of us are conscious of the process and we rarely stop to wonder how food reaches our plates.

Hungry City examines…


The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

By Hannah Glasse,

Book cover of The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

First published in 1747, this cookbook was a bestseller of its day. One of the things I love about it is the way that Hannah Glasse’s forthright voice leaps off the page across the centuries. Aimed at servants, she begins by explaining that she has not written ‘in the high, polite stile’, but instead written it clearly in terms that can be easily understood by her audience. She is scathing about the extravagant tricks that fashionable French cooks resort to: ‘I have heard of a cook that used six pounds of butter to fry twelve eggs, when everybody knows, that understands cooking, that half a pound is full enough, or more than need be used. But then it would not be French.’ In its approach to ingredients, its language, its recipes, this is a wonderful glimpse into the past.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

By Hannah Glasse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first American edition of this staple of the American household during the Revolutionary War. How to market. How to roast and broil and fry. Gravies, sauces, hashes, fricassees, ragouts.


Stories from the Kitchen

By Diana Secker Tesdell,

Book cover of Stories from the Kitchen

Stories from the Kitchen is a celebration of food in fiction, an anthology of short stories combined with tidbits from novels. The authors are well known, ranging from Charles Dickens’ “Love and Oysters,” about oysters upending the life of a man and his dependable routines, to Isaak Dineson’s “Babette’s Feast,” in which a lavish dinner served by a French cook transforms the hearts and souls of the most austere members of an isolated Danish community. Another story of particular interest: M.F.K. Fisher’s heartbreaking “A Kitchen Allegory.” As in Fisher’s gastronomical non-fiction writing, in which food is her greatest metaphor, this slice of fiction uses food as a source of empathy for a woman who has to reckon with no longer being needed. Reading this entire collection underscores how my own book—though unprecedented in its number of recipes tucked within a novel— stands on a long tradition of food as…

Stories from the Kitchen

By Diana Secker Tesdell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stories from the Kitchen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stories from the Kitchen is a one-of-a-kind anthology of classic tales showcasing the culinary arts from across the centuries and around the world.

Here is a mouthwatering smorgasbord of stories with food in the starring role, by a range of masters of fiction—from Dickens and Chekhov to Isaac Bashevis Singer, from Shirley Jackson to Jim Crace and Amy Tan. These richly varied selections offer tastes as decadent as caviar and as humble as cherry pie. They dazzle with the sumptuous extravagance of Isak Dinesen’s “Babette’s Feast” and console with a prisoner’s tender final meal in Günter Grass’s The Flounder. Choice…


Cuisine and Empire

By Rachel Laudan,

Book cover of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History

I love this book primarily for the ambitiousness of its breadth. It begins thousands of years ago with the role of early grain domestication in empire-building and stretches to the roles of modern cuisines in global trade, industry, and capitalism. Although a whirlwind of peoples and places from across human history, this beautifully written and illustrated book is easy for any reader interested in the subject to digest. 

Cuisine and Empire

By Rachel Laudan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cuisine and Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rachel Laudan tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of the world's great cuisines from the mastery of grain cooking some twenty thousand years ago, to the present in this superbly researched book. Probing beneath the apparent confusion of dozens of cuisines to reveal the underlying simplicity of the culinary family tree, she shows how periodic seismic shifts in culinary philosophy" beliefs about health, the economy, politics, society and the gods prompted the construction of new cuisines, a handful of which, chosen as the cuisines of empires, came to dominate the globe. Cuisine and Empire shows how merchants,…


Black Sea

By Caroline Eden,

Book cover of Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes, Through Darkness and Light

Caroline Eden is an intrepid traveler, and her culinary travelogue Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes through Darkness and Light beautifully captures the romance of the Black Sea region. You experience all the bumps and jolts of her journey as she moves along the coasts of Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey, repeatedly forsaking comfort for more strenuous modes of conveyance and lodging. The book's shimmery cover is alluring, as are the generous photographs of people, places, and food. Eden's lyrical, evocative prose has an immediacy that communicates the distinctiveness of each place she visits. The book goes beyond history, culture, cuisine, and geopolitics to tell the personal stories of the people who inhabit the Black Sea coast.

Black Sea

By Caroline Eden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Art of Eating Prize 2020

Winner of the Guild of Food Writers' Best Food Book Award 2019

Winner of the Edward Stanford Travel Food and Drink Book Award 2019

Winner of the John Avery Award at the Andre Simon Food and Drink Book Awards for 2018

Shortlisted for the James Beard International Cookbook Award

'The next best thing to actually travelling with Caroline Eden - a warm, erudite and greedy guide - is to read her. This is my kind of book.' - Diana Henry

'A wonderfully inspiring book about a magical part of the world' -…


Red Sands

By Caroline Eden,

Book cover of Red Sands: Reportage and Recipes Through Central Asia, from Hinterland to Heartland

Food is without doubt one of the most insightful windows into any culture. The food we eat is a mirror of who we are and where we come from, a strong trigger for memory, and cooking together or sharing a meal creates an unusually strong bond between people who were previously strangers. In Red Sands, Caroline Eden combines reportage, photography, and recipes to build a rich picture of Central Asia, introducing people and places foreigners would never normally encounter. Her stories are diverse, evocative, and thought-provoking, but they have one thing in common: they make you hungry for adventure and to taste the many ingredients and dishes she describes.

Red Sands

By Caroline Eden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red Sands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Andre Simon Food Book Award 2020

"Caroline Eden is an extraordinarily creative and gifted writer. Red Sands captures the sights, tastes and feel of Central Asia so well that when reading this book I was sometimes convinced I was there in person. A wonderful book from start to finish." Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads\

"Caroline Eden, whose book Black Sea was showered with awards, is on the road again, this time travelling through the heart of Asia. It's not your usual cookbook, it's more a travel book with recipes, the recipes acting as postcards which…


In Defense of Food

By Michael Pollan,

Book cover of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food is also a classic, coming out in 2008. This book takes you deeper into the world of ultra-processed foods vs. whole foods—though the term “ultra-processed” wasn’t yet being used when he wrote this book. His famous “eater’s manifesto”—Eat food.  Not too much. Mostly plants. – is the tl/dr version, but if you want to learn more about how he came up with this manifesto, you’ll find it all within these pages. 

In Defense of Food

By Michael Pollan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In Defense of Food as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller from the author of This is Your Mind on Plants, How to Change Your Mind, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Food Rules

Food. There's plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it?

Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion--most of what we’re consuming today is longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we see…


Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes

By Jamie Oliver,

Book cover of Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast

Few chefs make cooking seem as fun as Jamie Oliver. His genuinely happy personality shines through in his recipes from this cooking library staple. This book is unique because the recipes are organized into 50 full meals instead of separate chapters. This makes entertaining super easy because you can choose a main dish, and Jamie tells you what to serve with it. The recipes are all completely approachable and there’s no guessing what side dishes or desserts go with dinner. I’m the kind of cook who uses this book as a jumping-off board, and I change up his menus depending on what I want to serve. But the fact that you can do this, or follow his formulas to the tee and get a great meal, is the selling point for me.

Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes

By Jamie Oliver,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Renowned chef Oliver, bestselling author and star of ABC's "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," shows home cooks how to use their kitchen and their time more efficiently so they can get exciting, delicious meals for the whole family on the table in no time.


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