100 books like The Culture of Food

By Massimo Montanari,

Here are 100 books that The Culture of Food fans have personally recommended if you like The Culture of Food. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Art of Eating

Mary Taylor Simeti Author Of Sicilian Summer: An Adventure in Cooking with my Grandsons

From my list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind.

Who am I?

As an American living and cooking in Sicily for almost sixty years, I have soaked up Sicilian cuisine and culture both through research and by osmosis, delighting in discovering how the food I was preparing reflected the island’s position in history and geography, a meeting point for almost all the civilizations of the Mediterranean. My first book, a memoir of my life here entitled On Persephone’s Island, was followed by Pomp and Sustenance. Twenty-five Centuries of Sicilian Food, the first book on Sicilian cuisine to be published in English. Six more books on different aspects of Sicilian food and culture, in English or in Italian, have followed.

Mary's book list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind

Mary Taylor Simeti Why did Mary love this book?

Whenever I feel a stab of nostalgia for my American childhood, I turn to M.F.K. Fisher, one of the most delightful food writers ever. The Art of Eating is a one-volume edition of six of her books, all written before I graduated from high school: it gives a funny and informative account of American (and other) eating habits before the great foodie revolution of the ‘80’s altered everything. It offers mostly food for the mind but the palate is also served by recipes I’d forgotten all about, often given both in their comfort food guise and in fancy dress.

By M.F.K. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Art of Eating as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ruth Reichl - 'Mary Frances [Fisher] has the extraordinary ability to make the ordinary seem rich and wonderful. Her dignity comes from her absolute insistence on appreciating life as it comes to her'. Julia Child - 'How wonderful to have here in my hands the essence of M.F.K. Fisher, whose wit and fulsome opinions on food and those who produce it, comment upon it, and consume it are as apt today as they were several decades ago, when she composed them. Why did she choose food and hunger she was asked, and she replied, 'When I write about hunger, I…


Book cover of The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners

Carolyn Steel Author Of Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World

From my list on how food shapes our lives.

Who am I?

Food and architecture have been dual passions in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandparents had a hotel in Bournemouth, and I can still recall my fascination with the way everything changed as I passed through the green baize doors between the service areas and the public rooms. I became an architect, but food was always there in the background, and much later, I realised how I could bring the two together in order to describe the world in a completely new way. This led to my first book, Hungry City, and its follow-up Sitopia, both of which have changed the way I see the world. 

Carolyn's book list on how food shapes our lives

Carolyn Steel Why did Carolyn love this book?

The Rituals of Dinner opened my eyes to the power and complexity of eating with other people – something we all do throughout our lives – and the profound ways in which this affects our relationships with friends and strangers alike.

The book delves into the history of the shared meal, dissecting various rituals which, despite regional differences, nevertheless have common threads across the world, for example in the deep, often hidden power that lies in the relationship between host and guest (words that both derive from the same root, ghostis) and the strong, even life-changing implications of knowing how to behave at dinner.

This is a fascinating and beautifully written book that will have you thinking about the way we eat long after you have finished it. 

By Margaret Visser,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Rituals of Dinner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an acute eye and an irrepressible wit, Margaret Visser takes a fascinating look at the way we eat our meals. From the ancient Greeks to modern yuppies, from cannibalism and the taking of the Eucharist to formal dinners and picnics, she thoroughly defines the eating ritual.

"Read this book. You'll never look at a table knife the same way again."-The New York Times.


Book cover of The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

Mary Taylor Simeti Author Of Sicilian Summer: An Adventure in Cooking with my Grandsons

From my list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind.

Who am I?

As an American living and cooking in Sicily for almost sixty years, I have soaked up Sicilian cuisine and culture both through research and by osmosis, delighting in discovering how the food I was preparing reflected the island’s position in history and geography, a meeting point for almost all the civilizations of the Mediterranean. My first book, a memoir of my life here entitled On Persephone’s Island, was followed by Pomp and Sustenance. Twenty-five Centuries of Sicilian Food, the first book on Sicilian cuisine to be published in English. Six more books on different aspects of Sicilian food and culture, in English or in Italian, have followed.

Mary's book list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind

Mary Taylor Simeti Why did Mary love this book?

Sixty years ago when I first started cooking in Sicily, local ingredients were of topnotch quality but very limited variety, so my American cookbooks and food mags were useless. The discovery of Claudia Roden’s book opened up a whole new world: recipe upon recipe with Mediterranean ingredients and delicious results, and fascinating notes on the origin of the dishes, notes that made me want to know more about culinary history.

By Claudia Roden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Book of Middle Eastern Food as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Claudia Roden's A Book of Middle Eastern Food is your ultimate cookbook and guide to the rich and exotic recipes of the Middle East . . .

'Meticulously collected, compellingly assembled, lovingly told . . . Informative, delectable and incredibly useful' YOTAM OTTOLENGHI

'Roden's great gift is to conjure up not just a cuisine but the culture from which it springs' NIGELLA LAWSON
_______

When it first published, Claudia Roden's bestselling classic Book of Middle Eastern Food revolutionised Western attitudes to the cuisines of the Middle East.

Containing over 500 modern and accessible recipes that are brought to life with…


Book cover of Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style

Mary Taylor Simeti Author Of Sicilian Summer: An Adventure in Cooking with my Grandsons

From my list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind.

Who am I?

As an American living and cooking in Sicily for almost sixty years, I have soaked up Sicilian cuisine and culture both through research and by osmosis, delighting in discovering how the food I was preparing reflected the island’s position in history and geography, a meeting point for almost all the civilizations of the Mediterranean. My first book, a memoir of my life here entitled On Persephone’s Island, was followed by Pomp and Sustenance. Twenty-five Centuries of Sicilian Food, the first book on Sicilian cuisine to be published in English. Six more books on different aspects of Sicilian food and culture, in English or in Italian, have followed.

Mary's book list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind

Mary Taylor Simeti Why did Mary love this book?

I am apt to come back to the kitchen from the garden or the farmers’ market with a large bag of irresistible vegetables that I have no idea what I’m going to do with. More often than not I turn to Viana La Place’s book for a simple and satisfying recipe that uses Italian ingredients with a touch of California thrown in.

By Viana LA Place,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fresh ingredients and ease of preparation characterize the recipes for every course of Italian food, from the antipasta to pasta and risotto, from soups and stews to sandwiches, and from main dishes to salads. With recipes for bruschetta topped with roasted tomatoes and country stews fragrant with saffron and rosemary, to tantalizing puddings, this book covers the full range of Italian cookery.


Book cover of Feast: Food of the Islamic World

Mary Taylor Simeti Author Of Sicilian Summer: An Adventure in Cooking with my Grandsons

From my list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind.

Who am I?

As an American living and cooking in Sicily for almost sixty years, I have soaked up Sicilian cuisine and culture both through research and by osmosis, delighting in discovering how the food I was preparing reflected the island’s position in history and geography, a meeting point for almost all the civilizations of the Mediterranean. My first book, a memoir of my life here entitled On Persephone’s Island, was followed by Pomp and Sustenance. Twenty-five Centuries of Sicilian Food, the first book on Sicilian cuisine to be published in English. Six more books on different aspects of Sicilian food and culture, in English or in Italian, have followed.

Mary's book list on food catering to the plate, the eye, and the mind

Mary Taylor Simeti Why did Mary love this book?

Feast is indeed a feast, served to the eye and the mind as well as to the palate. This Lebanese food writer has traveled from Senegal to Indonesia and to all the Islamic countries in between to gather recipes that are almost painfully tempting, lushly illustrated, and amply annotated. Reading it, one discovers how we in the West impoverish our idea of Islamic food when we equate it only with that of the Middle East.

By Anissa Helou,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Sunday Times Book of the Year (Bee Wilson)

A sweeping culinary journey across the Islamic world, and a celebration of its most iconic recipes.

A diverse and rich culinary tradition has evolved in every place touched by Islam, always characterised by deliciousness and fragrance, a love of herbs and the deft use of spices.

Anissa Helou's Feast represents an extraordinary journey through place and time, travelling from Senegal to Indonesia via the Arab, Persian, Mughal or North African heritage of so many dishes. This exploration of the foods of Islam begins with bread and its myriad variations, from pita…


Book cover of Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

Xaq Frohlich Author Of From Label to Table: Regulating Food in America in the Information Age

From my list on explain the origins of our industrial food system.

Who am I?

People tend to think of food as being simple and self-evident, or at least feel it should be. In fact, almost every aspect of modern food has been dramatically reshaped by science and technology. Something that fascinates me as a historian is thinking about past transformations in our foodways and how they explain the social tensions and political struggles we live with today. My book From Label to Table tells a biography of the food label, using it as a prism to explore Americans’ anxieties about industrial foodways. I found these books to be an excellent primer for understanding the emergence of America’s packaged food economy and its many problems.

Xaq's book list on explain the origins of our industrial food system

Xaq Frohlich Why did Xaq love this book?

Nature’s Metropolis is a rare work that transforms scholarship, yet whose easy flow and engaging tone make it approachable for non-specialists.

Its main arguments —how humans and cities are embedded in nature, the interwoven, strained ties between rural and urban, and how technologies transformed our connection to nature— are guiding themes of my own work. 

Reading the passage in this book about a sack’s journey, on how grain moved from farm to market before and after the appearance of the train in the West, was the spark that lit my imagination on how packaging transformed modern foodways.

By William Cronon,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Nature's Metropolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking work, William Cronon gives us an environmental perspective on the history of nineteenth-century America. By exploring the ecological and economic changes that made Chicago America's most dynamic city and the Great West its hinterland, Mr. Cronon opens a new window onto our national past. This is the story of city and country becoming ever more tightly bound in a system so powerful that it reshaped the American landscape and transformed American culture. The world that emerged is our own.

Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize


Book cover of Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America

Carolyn Steel Author Of Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World

From my list on how food shapes our lives.

Who am I?

Food and architecture have been dual passions in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandparents had a hotel in Bournemouth, and I can still recall my fascination with the way everything changed as I passed through the green baize doors between the service areas and the public rooms. I became an architect, but food was always there in the background, and much later, I realised how I could bring the two together in order to describe the world in a completely new way. This led to my first book, Hungry City, and its follow-up Sitopia, both of which have changed the way I see the world. 

Carolyn's book list on how food shapes our lives

Carolyn Steel Why did Carolyn love this book?

If you want to understand how modern (i.e. American) fast food culture evolved, this book is for you.

From ‘Chickens of Tomorrow’ to Betty Crocker’s cakes, from Women’s Lib to crash diets, flash-freezing to TV dinners, it’s all here – along with the political manoeuvring, misleading adverts, corporate greed, and social manipulation that created the unhealthiest, most destructive, yet also most popular and profitable food culture on earth.

Paradox of Plenty explains how we got into the mess we’re in when it comes to food – and is therefore essential reading for anyone concerned with the way we eat today. It’s also fast-paced, brilliant, and funny.

This book really opened my eyes to the craziness of industrial food culture and I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

By Harvey Levenstein,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health

Carolyn Steel Author Of Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World

From my list on how food shapes our lives.

Who am I?

Food and architecture have been dual passions in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandparents had a hotel in Bournemouth, and I can still recall my fascination with the way everything changed as I passed through the green baize doors between the service areas and the public rooms. I became an architect, but food was always there in the background, and much later, I realised how I could bring the two together in order to describe the world in a completely new way. This led to my first book, Hungry City, and its follow-up Sitopia, both of which have changed the way I see the world. 

Carolyn's book list on how food shapes our lives

Carolyn Steel Why did Carolyn love this book?

Occasionally you come across a book that is so informative and insightful that it transforms the way you see the world.

The Hidden Half of Nature is one such book. Co-authored by soil expert David R Montgomery and his biologist wife Anne Biklé, the book explains the intricate microbial worlds of living soil and human health – and how the two are vitally connected. With admirable clarity and amusing examples (such as what actually happens in your gut when you eat Thanksgiving Dinner), the authors bring the complex microbial world to vivid life.

I felt very fortunate to come across this book before I wrote my own, since I could not have wished for better teachers in this vital and rapidly evolving topic.    

By David R. Montgomery, Anne Biklé,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden Half of Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Twice: The Serial

Shannon Page Author Of Our Lady of the Islands

From my list on authors who care passionately about food and drink.

Who am I?

I love food and drink! I am an avid cook and kitchen creator. Since moving to an island five years ago, far from mainland stores, I’ve learned to craft much more myself. I make limoncello, fresh ice creams, shrub (sipping vinegar); I roast and saute and barbecue and preserve; and I belong to a “bean club” which sends me a box of interesting dried beans every quarter. (No, really.) Combine this with my love of imaginative literature, and you end up with Arouf’s “spicy sweetprawn stew” in Our Lady of the Islands…a recipe I’ll have to actually invent someday.

Shannon's book list on authors who care passionately about food and drink

Shannon Page Why did Shannon love this book?

This book is actually an illustrated online serial, currently 64 episodes in (and on pause at the moment, but I have it on good authority that it will resume). One of my favorite episodes deals with a mysterious young woman preparing a mysterious—magical?—breakfast of zucchini and eggs…but it’s full of spoilers, so you should probably just start the story from the beginning.

I love Twice: The Serial because it's an amazing contemporary fantasy story, well told and beautifully illustrated—a great example of the kind of fantasy I love, which is the "slow build" type...we're in the real world and then mysterious things happen around the edges...and then right in the middle.

By Mark J. Ferrari,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Much Depends on Dinner

Jenny Linford Author Of The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour

From my list on that help us explore the world.

Who am I?

I am a food writer who has long been interested in seeing food in its cultural, historical, and social context. Food is too often put in a neat little box, whereas actually it offers a fascinating prism through which to explore the world. Researching and writing The Missing Ingredient – in which I explore the role of time as the universal, invisible ‘ingredient’ in the food we grow, make, and cook brought this home to me.

Jenny's book list on that help us explore the world

Jenny Linford Why did Jenny love this book?

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.

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".


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Europe, World War 1, and the United Kingdom?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Europe, World War 1, and the United Kingdom.

Europe Explore 867 books about Europe
World War 1 Explore 854 books about World War 1
The United Kingdom Explore 560 books about the United Kingdom