The best books about eating

1 authors have picked their favorite books about eating and why they recommend each book.

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The Minimalist Entertains

By Mark Bittman,

Book cover of The Minimalist Entertains

This is the only entertaining book I’ll ever recommend that doesn’t actually have pictures! It would be blasphemous other than Mark is an expert recipe developer who churns out 40 menus for successful meals and offers a plethora of tips and helpful success secrets throughout. I miss the pictures but love how he organizes the meals by season. It’s easy to narrow down the chapter you want to cook from, and the descriptive titles let you choose a menu based on the delightful sound of the recipe! You’ll be thrilled to have these seasonal menus laid out for you, but they lend themselves well to inserting some of your own updated favorite recipes in place of canapes. Try his Pasta with Walnuts, or Chili-Fried Shrimp with Scallions and Orange, yes please!


Who am I?

I am passionate about the power of food and cooking, and how it can bring people together, allow us to explore our creativity, and nourish both body and soul. I’ve spent over 20 years creating recipes for home cooks, published in magazines, and inspiring confidence in the kitchen. Now I share my best advice, takes on traditional favorites, and the beauty of food and entertaining in cookbooks and on TaraTeaspoon.com. I encourage cooks to find cookbooks they inspire, with tested recipes, helpful tips, and beautiful pictures to entice all the senses. Trying new recipes from my cookbook list will bring joy to your cooking and entertaining.


I wrote...

Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together

By Tara Bench,

Book cover of Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together

What is my book about?

Delicious Gatherings is your invitation to step into the kitchen and create a meal worth remembering! Author Tara Bench, a.k.a. Tara Teaspoon, helps you impress guests and gather friends around your table with recipes for elevated everyday meals and special holidays, plus helpful tips and how-tos. This cookbook aims to bring joy, flair, and amazing taste to all your get-togethers. 

Tara has been in the food publishing industry for more than twenty years and is also the author of Live Life Deliciously: Recipes for Busy Weekdays and Leisurely Weekends. In Delicious Gatherings Tara shares over 120 recipes from Sunday suppers and weeknight family meals to elaborate buffets for bigger crowds and holiday celebrations, and her recipes include delicious showstoppers and unique takes on comforting classics.

Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts

By Susan Williams,

Book cover of Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America

If you strive to be a Victorian-era food snob, this is the guidebook. It’s a comprehensive overview of food and cooking customs from the second half of the 19th century, packed with illustrations and tons of fun trivia. (For example: celery was considered a high-status food by the middle class because of its connection to Homer’s Odyssey. If you were looking for a trendy centerpiece, you could put it in specially appointed silver or glass vases like a bouquet of flowers. Haha!) You’ll also find an explanation of mealtimes, and how expectations for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, and supper were different from today’s. There’s a whole chapter on Victorian table etiquette! By the way, Victorians advise that if you’re hosting a dinner party, make sure to wear an outfit that’s “rich in material, but subdued in tone” so you don’t show up any of your guests.


Who are we?

Miko and Jenne are librarians who love to eat. Their love of classic children’s literature led them to start their 36 Eggs blog, where they recreate foods and experiences from their favorite books. In 2019, they published the Little Women Cookbook, which required extensive research into the food of the Victorian era.


We wrote...

The Little Women Cookbook: Novel Takes on Classic Recipes from Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy and Friends

By Jenne Bergstrom, Miko Osada,

Book cover of The Little Women Cookbook: Novel Takes on Classic Recipes from Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy and Friends

What is our book about?

You already adore the story of these four sisters who, with little means, find their own paths in a tale full of laughter, love, loss, and family. Now, experience Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel in an entirely new and delightful way—as a cookbook. You’ll learn to make ice cream with Meg, molasses candy with Jo, baked squash with Beth, pickled limes with Amy, and so much more. For a creative twist, these delicious step-by-step recipes are adapted from vintage Civil War-era cookbooks for the modern kitchen.

Feast

By Martin Jones,

Book cover of Feast: Why Humans Share Food

The joy of this book is the way it lays bare the detective work of archaeology. Martin Jones shows us how archaeologists build a picture of the past using fragments of bone; food residues on the inside of cooking pots; grains of pollen; berry seeds and whipworm eggs. He takes us from a group of chimpanzees foraging in Tanzanian fruit trees and the beginnings of sociable eating to the development of cooking among Neanderthals in the Iberian Peninsula and on to a newly-permanent Mesopotamian farming settlement and the competitive dining of a Roman table in Colchester. Organized around the central question of ‘why humans share food’, the book is a history of the meal itself.


Who am I?

I first became interested in food when I was researching my PhD on the use of the body as an instrument of rule in British India. The British in India developed a language of food to demonstrate their power and status. I discovered that food is a rich subject for the historian as it carries a multitude of stories. I have since written five more books exploring these complex stories, always interested in connecting the broad sweep of historical processes to the more intimate level of everyday life and the connections between the food world of the past with the food world of the present.


I wrote...

The Hungry Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

By Lizzie Collingham,

Book cover of The Hungry Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

What is my book about?

The glamorous daughter of an African chief shares a pineapple with a slave trader… Surveyors in British Columbia eat tinned Australian rabbit… Diamond prospectors in Guyana prepare an iguana curry…

In twenty meals The Hungry Empire tells the story of how the British created a global network of commerce and trade in foodstuffs that moved people and plants from one continent to another, reshaping landscapes and culinary tastes. The Empire allowed Britain to harness the globe’s edible resources from cod fish and salt beef to spices, tea, and sugar. Lizzie Collingham takes us on a wide-ranging culinary journey, revealing how virtually every meal we eat still contains a taste of empire.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

By Judith Kerr,

Book cover of The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Who doesn’t love this charming tiger? I’m a huge fan of Judith Kerr’s children’s books and her sweet and child-like illustrations, so I had to add this one to the list. It’s such a classic. My favourite thing is spotting Mog in the street when the family is on their way to the cafe.

Who am I?

I’m a children’s book author and illustrator and I have a special fondness for picture books. They’re often a child’s first experience of reading — or being read to, and that’s such a magical time! I still remember my favourite picture books as a child. I’m also a crazy cat person and I love all cats, big and small. My first picture book, Tiger in a Tutu, is about a tiger who lives in Paris Zoo but wants to be a ballet dancer. I made a small list of my favourite tiger picture books for you. I hope you enjoy it.


I wrote...

Tiger in a Tutu

By Fabi Santiago,

Book cover of Tiger in a Tutu

What is my book about?

Max lives a life of luxury in Paris Zoo. But Max isn't like the other tigers -- he's a tiger with a dream!

Max longs to pirouette and plié, to leap and spin. He wants to be a dazzling dancer, shining on the stage! But will this tiger in a tutu get his moment in the spotlight? And will he ever find a friend to dance by his side? Set in Paris, with a dancing tiger as the star, Tiger in a Tutu is an uplifting tale of following your dreams and pursuing your talent, no matter what.

Cook Beautiful

By Athena Calderone,

Book cover of Cook Beautiful

Cook Beautiful goes way beyond a traditional cookbook—Athena Calderone is the goddess of all things food and design. She truly executes her love of each by styling and photographing stunning recipes and giving tips on how to make the food look as good as it tastes. Each section closes with ideas for beautiful tablescapes inspired by nature. This lifestyle cookbook looks as good on your coffee table as it does in your kitchen, and you’ll want to turn every page for one gorgeous recipe and tablescape after another. 


Who am I?

As a child of divorce who moved around often, cooking and entertaining was consistent in my life on both sides of my family. The comforting smells and traditions around food in the home became a religion to me—something I could count on. My grandmother was a hostess to be admiredher impeccable entertaining etiquette was where my love of hosting was born. My degree in psychology lends itself to sharing what’s so important about creating intentional gatherings at the table. My education and passion for creative arts pair well with my husband’s expertise as an Architect, where we understand the importance of creating inviting spaces for people to occupy.


I wrote...

The Modern Hippie Table: Recipes and Menus for Eating Simply and Living Beautifully

By Lauren Thomas,

Book cover of The Modern Hippie Table: Recipes and Menus for Eating Simply and Living Beautifully

What is my book about?

The term “Modern Hippie” celebrates a way of living and entertaining that creates an intentional series of moments at home, where good food, conversation, and design come together to create lasting memories. Lauren Thomas’s The Modern Hippie Table combines more than 70 curated recipes and assorted themed menus with beautiful and doable tabletop ideas, creating a vibe of laid-back elegance that complements whatever is on the menu, from an intimate dinner for two to a large celebration.

In this debut collection, Lauren shares favorite dishes that can be easily prepared for entertaining, which allows you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests and family. 

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.


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.


I wrote...

The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour

By Jenny Linford,

Book cover of The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour

What is my book about?

The Missing Ingredient is about what makes good food, and the first book to consider the intrinsic yet often forgotten role of time in creating the flavours and textures we love.

Written through a series of encounters with ingredients, producers, cooks, shopkeepers, and chefs, exploring everything from the brief period in which sugar caramelises, or the days required in the crucial process of fermentation, to the months of slow ripening and close attention that make a great cheddar, or the years needed for certain wines to reach their peak, Jenny Linford shows how, time and again, time itself is the invisible ingredient. From the patience and dedication of many food producers in fields and storehouses around the world to the rapid reactions required of any home cook at the hob, this book allows us to better understand our culinary lives.

My Place At The Table

By Alexander Lobrano,

Book cover of My Place At The Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris

This was a gift from a friend, and I absolutely love it. From the jacket copy: “It is the riveting portrait of a gay man struggling to overcome the reverberating shame and guilt of a long-buried childhood secret.” On the very first page he includes his ode to a sandwich, written when he was a child. It starts: "The BLT is the most perfect sandwich. The bacon brings it salt and the rich taste of pork. The tomato is sweet and juicy…”  Labrano eventually became a famous food critic, and his memoir is peppered with fabulous descriptions of food and wine. His description of a dinner in Val-les-Bains in the Ardèche region of France is downright inspiring. A great read!


Who am I?

I went to Paris the first time when I was nineteen. I was sitting in a cheap restaurant when a man entered carrying a burlap sack filled with escargots, and put some on my plate (all very unsanitary) for me to taste. Delicious! I was in France in the 1970s when Robert Parker was discovering French wine. (We didn’t meet then, but did after my series was published many years later.)  Subsequent stays in Paris and other areas of France (Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy) afforded me a food and wine sensibility that over decades has permeated my lifestyle, my friendships—and my writing.


I wrote...

Champagne: The Farewell

By Janet Hubbard,

Book cover of Champagne: The Farewell

What is my book about?

NYPD detective Max Maguire flies to France to attend her friend Chloé Marceau’s wedding at a grand estate in Champagne. The fairy-tale evening dissolves into mayhem when Chloé’s aunt Léa is found murdered hours after the event. Max tries to insinuate herself into the investigation, but is thwarted by the handsome aristocratic examining magistrate, who had also been a guest at the wedding. But Max has her ways, and soon the family’s long-held secrets begin to spill out like marbles from an overturned dish, leading to one clue after another. Olivier finds himself fascinated by the lively American, and over the next days they join forces, and through the process find themselves bonding over food and wine, and friends and family.

The Greatest Table

By Michael J. Rosen, Becca Stadtlander (illustrator),

Book cover of The Greatest Table

This book is a poem about people gathering around food, whether at tables or on picnic blankets, breakfasts in bed, or at a sidewalk café. The illustrations are beautiful—homes around the world, and spreads of all kinds of foods. The theme is gratitude—for food, for family and friends, for the diversity of the world’s tables that together make the greatest table. This is a quiet book—one that could be read as a prayer before a meal. It is invitational: “…so if you’re hungry, join us here, pull up another chair. We’ll all scoot over, make more room, there’s always some to spare.”

Who am I?

I am a children’s author who loves to eat and bake and cook and gather with others around a table. My writing somehow always has details about people coming together around favorite foods and drinks, enjoying the company of family and friends. Is it any wonder these are the sorts of books I love to read, as well?


I wrote...

Around the Table That Grandad Built

By Melanie Heuiser Hill, Jaime Kim (illustrator),

Book cover of Around the Table That Grandad Built

What is my book about?

In a unique take on the cumulative classic This Is the House That Jack Built, a family gathers with friends and neighbors to share a meal around a table that brims with associations: napkins sewn by Mom, glasses from Mom and Dad’s wedding, silverware gifted to Dad by his grandma long ago. Not to mention the squash from the garden, the bread baked by Gran, and the pies made by the young narrator (with a little help). Serving up a diverse array of dishes and faces, this warm and welcoming story is poised to become a savored part of Thanksgiving traditions to come.

A beautifully illustrated celebration of bounty and gratitude, family and friendship, perfect for the holidays and every day.

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…


Who am I?

I have always loved books that weave food into the narrative. From essays to novels, I'm interested in the way food informs relationships and memories in stories. When Nancy Garfinkel and I created The Recipe Club, we shared a lot of our own food-related memories and passions. After the novel was published, we formed Recipe Clubs with devoted readers across the country. We traveled all over, hearing real-life stories related to food and friendship, love, and family. Recipes almost always carry stories with them, and the telling of these stories becomes a conduit for expressing our most authentic selves. I think this is why our book has had such great appeal.


I wrote...

The Recipe Club

By Andrea Israel, Nancy Garfinkel,

Book cover of The Recipe Club

What is my book about?

Lilly and Val are lifelong friends. In childhood the girls form an exclusive “Recipe Club,” which continues for decades, through which they exchange favorite recipes and deep secrets. Readers can cook along as Lilly and Val grow into complicated women who must face the challenges of independence, the joys and heartbreaks of love, and the emotional complexities of family relationships, identity, mortality, and goals deferred.

No matter what different paths they take or what misunderstandings threaten to break them apart, Lilly and Val always find their way back together through their Recipe Club…until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal. The Recipe Club is a “novel cookbook,” a pastiche of letters, emails, documents, illustrations, and more than 80 delicious recipes.

The Table Comes First

By Adam Gopnik,

Book cover of The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food

Adam Gopnik’s book, The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food has it all: essays on the history of restaurants, followed by second on taste, then come the recipes (a stellar one on leg of lamb prepared with bacon and anchovies, saffron and cinnamon), and finally, in Chapter Ten, an essay on wine that is a far cry from the plethora of books on “how to taste.” It calls wine what it is, alcohol, and talks about why it makes us happy. I downloaded this book onto my Kindle a long time ago, and writing about it reminds me to purchase a hard copy of the book in order to place It on my shelf next to Gopnik’s book, Paris to the Moon, written way back in 1995, which is about the year he and his wife and infant son spent in Paris, with great stories…


Who am I?

I went to Paris the first time when I was nineteen. I was sitting in a cheap restaurant when a man entered carrying a burlap sack filled with escargots, and put some on my plate (all very unsanitary) for me to taste. Delicious! I was in France in the 1970s when Robert Parker was discovering French wine. (We didn’t meet then, but did after my series was published many years later.)  Subsequent stays in Paris and other areas of France (Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy) afforded me a food and wine sensibility that over decades has permeated my lifestyle, my friendships—and my writing.


I wrote...

Champagne: The Farewell

By Janet Hubbard,

Book cover of Champagne: The Farewell

What is my book about?

NYPD detective Max Maguire flies to France to attend her friend Chloé Marceau’s wedding at a grand estate in Champagne. The fairy-tale evening dissolves into mayhem when Chloé’s aunt Léa is found murdered hours after the event. Max tries to insinuate herself into the investigation, but is thwarted by the handsome aristocratic examining magistrate, who had also been a guest at the wedding. But Max has her ways, and soon the family’s long-held secrets begin to spill out like marbles from an overturned dish, leading to one clue after another. Olivier finds himself fascinated by the lively American, and over the next days they join forces, and through the process find themselves bonding over food and wine, and friends and family.

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