The most recommended gastronomy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to gastronomy, and here are their favorite gastronomy books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of gastronomy book?

Loading...

Book cover of An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

Anne Biklé Author Of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health

From my list on microbiomes, gut health, food, and farming.

Who am I?

I have always been enamored with the natural world and how it works. This trait, among others, led me into the fields of biology, natural history, and environmental planning. Even as I witness our species chiseling away at the planet, I find hope and solace. Working alongside the tenacity and resiliency of plants, animals, and soil microbes, I've helped landscapes as large as a river basin and as small as a garden come to life and flourish. Give nature half a chance and she can do wonders.  

Anne's book list on microbiomes, gut health, food, and farming

Anne Biklé Why did Anne love this book?

I would be remiss if I didn't have a "food" book from my list. While I have read and liked many such books, Adler's is the top gem. 

As I read her book, I pictured us in my kitchen conversing about how we had modified a recipe to save time, money, or both. We compared notes on the lost art of thrift in the kitchen; how to turn bread heels, beans, and bones into tasty components of a meal. 

Adler shows us that we can be cooks on our terms, in our own kitchens, delightfully free of pretense and convention. May this book free your mind and inspire you to get creative in the kitchen to discover what's possible!

By Tamar Adler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The most beautifully written description of what cooking is all about, and what it actually is, with recipes' Nigella Lawson

Through the insightful essays in An Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler issues a rallying cry to home cooks.

In chapters about boiling water, cooking eggs and beans, and summoning respectable meals from empty cupboards, Tamar weaves philosophy and instruction into approachable lessons on instinctive cooking. Tamar shows how to make the most of everything you buy, demonstrating what the world's great chefs know: that great meals rely on the bones and peels and ends of meals before them.

She explains how…


Book cover of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food

Ian MacAllen Author Of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American

From my list on when you’re hungering for history.

Who am I?

My wife and I were at a red sauce joint in the West Village of Manhattan drinking a bit of wine when we posed the question: who invented all this? We knew Italian American food didn’t look all that much like the food we ate in Italy. Later, at home, I started Googling for answers. None were satisfactory. I read a few books before finding myself at the New York Public library sleuthing through JSTOR. After examining my notes, I said to myself, “oh, I guess I’m writing a book.”

Ian's book list on when you’re hungering for history

Ian MacAllen Why did Ian love this book?

Jennifer 8 Lee looks at the history of Chinese American food, but with an emphasis on restaurants and food production. For instance, I learned one of the leading fortune cookie manufacturers has a factory just a few blocks from where I live in Brooklyn, and the differences in low cost and fermented of soy sauce. Lee looks at modern Chinese American cuisine through a global lens showing the impact across continents, including exporting Chinese American favorites like fortune cookies back to China. 

By Jennifer 8. Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fortune Cookie Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you think McDonald's is the most ubiquitous restaurant experience in America, consider that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys combined. New York Times reporter and Chinese-American (or American-born Chinese). In her search, Jennifer 8 Lee traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food. In a compelling blend of sociology and history, Jenny Lee exposes the indentured servitude Chinese restaurants expect from illegal immigrant chefs, investigates the relationship between Jews and Chinese food, and weaves a personal narrative about her own relationship with Chinese food. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles…


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…


An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo

By Clifford A. Wright,

Book cover of An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo

Clifford A. Wright Author Of An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Philosopher Historian Researcher Gastronomer Bibliophile and reviewer

Clifford's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

An Italian Feast celebrates the cuisines of the Italian provinces from Como to Palermo. A culinary guide and book of ready reference meant to be the most comprehensive book on Italian cuisine, and it includes over 800 recipes from the 109 provinces of Italy's 20 regions.

An Italian Feast is a gastronomy about Italian culinary history and consciousness, about how Italians cook, eat, and how their food is an intimate part of their culture. It is the first book in any language to comprehensively explore the gastronomy and cuisine not just of Italy, and not just the regions of Italy, but all 109 provinces of Italy, linking each with each other in terms of history, agriculture, economics, and the material culture of creative food illustrated with recipes.

An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo

By Clifford A. Wright,


Book cover of On Food and Cooking

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?

Truly a remarkable book, this seminal work has been – and continues to be - profoundly influential in shaping our understanding of food. The book’s subtitle – An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture – expresses its huge breadth Writing with great clarity and concision, McGee shares the history of foods – such as cheese, chocolate, grains, sugar – and explains the science of how humans use, cook and preserve them. If you’re at all interested in understanding food better, then this is the book for you.

By Harold McGee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An updated twentieth-anniversary edition of the classic culinary reference features ninety percent new material and provides a wealth of kitchen tips, food-preparation techniques, folklore, literary anecdotes, and health information, in a volume that features particular coverage of trends from the p


Book cover of Stories from the Kitchen

Andrea Israel Author Of The Recipe Club

From my list on sumptuous fiction about food, family and friendship.

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.

Andrea's book list on sumptuous fiction about food, family and friendship

Andrea Israel Why did Andrea love this book?

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…

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…


Book cover of Traditional Recipes of the Provinces of France

Clifford A. Wright Author Of A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with More than 500 Recipes

From my list on provincial French cooking for home cooks.

Who am I?

I am an independent research scholar, food writer, and cook who won the James Beard Cookbook of the Year award and the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for A Mediterranean Feast. I have written 19 books, 17 of which are cookbooks, and two on politics and history. I wrote all the food entries for Columbia University's Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and the entry for tiramisu and other sweets in the Oxford Companion to Sweets. I have written articles on politics, military affairs, foreign policy, history, and botany.

Clifford's book list on provincial French cooking for home cooks

Clifford A. Wright Why did Clifford love this book?

Better known by his pen-name Curnonsky, Maurice Edmond Sailland, was called the Prince of Gastronomy and was the most celebrated writer on gastronomy in France in the 20th century. Notice I say writer on gastronomy and not most famous chef or most famous cookbook author. What Curnonsky did was write about the whys and wherefores of the great provincial cuisines of France. If you think you know something about provincial French cuisine, Curnonsky will enlighten you with his explorations into the culture and geography of these various regions. The recipes in some cases will be unfamiliar and archaic, although no less delicious. The book is a gem.

By Maurice Edmond Sailland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Traditional Recipes of the Provinces of France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traditional Recipes of The Provinces of France : Selected By Curnonsky Hardcover– January 1, 1961 by Edwin (Trans. And Ed.) Lavin(Author) Translated and edited by Edwin Lavin, c1961


Book cover of Taste: Surprising Stories and Science about Why Food Tastes Good

Anthony Gladman Author Of Gin A Tasting Course: A Flavor-focused Approach to the World of Gin

From my list on cocktail-loving flavour fans.

Who am I?

I think I was always meant to write about drinks for a living, it just took me a while to realise. Ever since my Dad gave me a copy of Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails as a kid (to look at the cartoonish illustrations) I've been fascinated by these particularly adult delights. I've also followed flavour around all my life like a Loony Tunes figure in the thrall of a beckoning wisp of fragrant steam. Studying this stuff for various drinks industry qualifications has only made that interest grow stronger, and so I take it out on you, dear reader, in the nicest way, of course.

Anthony's book list on cocktail-loving flavour fans

Anthony Gladman Why did Anthony love this book?

No book can ever tell you, definitively, what tastes good. This one can tell you why certain things taste good to you, which is a much more interesting subject to dive into.

I found it fascinating to learn just how much all the other senses are involved when it comes to eating and drinking, it really is the most sensory-stimulating activity in our lives. Ok, perhaps the second most.

This book also goes into a subject that's close to my heart: learning to become a better taster. So many people seem to think your skill at this is fixed at birth. That's not true! If you're anything like me, then you'll love how this book opens up a whole dimension of aroma and flavour and makes your world all the richer for it.

By Barb Stuckey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What if you could get more sensory input, and hence more enjoyment, from the foods you're already eating? You can with a little bit of understanding and practice. Taste What You're Missingexplains the science behind what's happening in your mouth, nose, and mind when you eat.

Stuckey tells fascinating stories about people who've experienced changes or loss of one of their senses, to illuminate aspects of taste many readers never would have noticed or appreciated. People who have damaged their tongues and lost a certain amount of sensitivity; people with anosmia--no sense of smell--like Ben of Ben & Jerry's Ice…


Book cover of The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs

Peggy Paul Casella Author Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pizza Cookbook

From my list on making pizza from scratch.

Who am I?

I am a cookbook author, editor, local food enthusiast, and the creator of the blog Thursday Night Pizza, where I share weekly recipes and de-snobbify the process of from-scratch pizza for home cooks of all skill levels. When I’m not in the kitchen or behind my computer, I enjoy gardening, working on house projects, tending to my Little Free Library, and roaming my city of Philadelphia with my husband and son.

Peggy's book list on making pizza from scratch

Peggy Paul Casella Why did Peggy love this book?

Once you master a good pizza dough recipe, the next step is experimenting with different combinations of toppings. Whenever I need some pairing inspiration for seasonal produce or meats or a special type of cheese, this is the first book I reach for. 

By Karen Page, Andrew Dornenburg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe--it's knowing how to season ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor from them. Drawing on dozens of leading chefs' combined experience in top restaurants across the country, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg present the definitive guide to creating "deliciousness" in any dish.

Thousands of ingredient entries, organized alphabetically and cross-referenced, provide a treasure trove of spectacular flavor combinations. Readers will learn to work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients; experiment with temperature and texture; excite the nose and palate with herbs, spices, and other seasonings; and balance the sensual, emotional, and spiritual elements…


Book cover of The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine

Mark Spivak Author Of Friend of the Devil

From my list on human obsession.

Who am I?

From an early age, it became obvious there were two types of people in the world. There were those who played it safe, who sold life insurance or worked for the government, who took their kids to soccer games and dutifully hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Then there were those who were haunted and driven by inner forces they couldn’t begin to understand. After realizing that I fell into the second category, I discovered many kindred spirits who had written books. While some of them sugar-coated their stories into “page-turners” or “beach reads,” the core of human obsession was unmistakable. I resolved to explore the outer edge of that obsession.

Mark's book list on human obsession

Mark Spivak Why did Mark love this book?

Think Friend of the Devil is merely fiction? Consider this: Bernard Loiseau rose from obscurity to the pinnacle of his profession, earning the ultimate accolade of three stars in the Michelin Guide for his restaurant La Côte d’Or in Saulieu, France. Yet in 2003, immediately after the lunch service, this acclaimed chef blew his brains out with a shotgun. The Perfectionist traces his life, obsessions, and insecurities to give us a chilling portrait of why attaining your dreams might be the most dangerous situation of all.

By Rudolph Chelminski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An unforgettable portrait of France’s legendary chef, and the sophisticated, unforgiving world of French gastronomy

Bernard Loiseau was one of only twenty-five French chefs to hold Europe’s highest culinary award, three stars in the Michelin Red Guide, and only the second chef to be personally awarded the Legion of Honor by a head of state. Despite such triumphs, he shocked the culinary world by taking his own life in February 2003. TheGaultMillau guidebook had recently dropped its ratings of Loiseau’s restaurant, and rumors swirled that he was on the verge of losing a Michelin star (a prediction that proved to…


Book cover of Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris

James N. McKean Author Of Quattrocento

From my list on to drop the hook and read at anchor.

Who am I?

Having sailed the East Coast for over sixty years, from Ocracoke to Gaspe, I know that there’s nothing better than a few days of bad weather - if you`re safely at anchor in a well-protected cove. The wind in the rigging, rain drumming on the deck, the stove fired up, a mug of tea (with or without a tot of rum): add a good book, and that is pure happiness. After a hard day's sail - or just drifting along, becalmed - a good book is a sailor`s best friend.

James' book list on to drop the hook and read at anchor

James N. McKean Why did James love this book?

Some books are worth reading just because the writing is so wonderful. But combine that with the subject matter - dining out in Paris - and you are in for a treat. Liebling, a longtime staff writer for the New Yorker, shares with us the sublime art of enjoying a good meal. He also wrote some of the best reporting on the Second World War, landing with the Allies in Morocco and accompanying the troops on the front line through Europe (available as WW2 Writings, Library of America).

By A.J. Liebling,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New Yorker staff writer A.J. Liebling recalls his Parisian apprenticeship in the fine art of eating in this charming memoir, Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris.

“There would come a time when, if I had compared my life to a cake, the sojourns in Paris would have presented the chocolate filling. The intervening layers were plain sponge.”

In his nostalgic review of his Rabelaisian initiation into life’s finer pleasures, Liebling celebrates the richness and variety of French food, fondly recalling great meals and memorable wines. He writes with awe and a touch of envy of his friend and mentor Yves…