Wednesday reading experience #30

Read one of the great foodie books. I recommend Brillat-Savarin's Physiology of Taste.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) was a famous French gastronome and his book on the subject, Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), is still in print. Here he is discussing the effects of digestion on men of literature (translation by Anne Drayton, from the Penguin edition):

"I believe that men of letters, for the most part, owe their choice of genre to their stomach.
According to my theory, comic poets will be found among the regular, tragic poets among the constipated, and pastoral and elegaic poets among the lax; whence it follows that the most lachrymose of poets is only removed from the most comic of poets by a degree of digestionary concoction."

The book covers all kinds of subjects and their relation to food, eating and digestion, and is a must-read for true foodies.

Other good food reads I can recommend are:

  • The Book of Tea by Anthony Burgess and Alain Stella – a brilliant coverage of the history of tea, tea-drinking traditions, tea natural history and tea varieties, full of gorgeous photos and illustrations.
  • The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe. Although some of the history chapters are a little dry, this is a great read for those who wish to know where that heavenly substance comes from, how it came to be known to the world and how it’s made.
  • Unfortunately I have not come across a really good book about coffee, so I can’t recommend one.
  • Tender at the Bone and Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. The first is a wonderful memoir that describes the making of a foodie, and the second is a memoir and collection of her food articles and restaurant reviews from the New York Times.
  • A Cook’s Tour in search of the perfect meal by Anthony Bourdain. Combines two of my favourite hobbies: travel and food. If you're wondering why I am not recommending Kitchen Confidential, it’s because while it’s an interesting read, it is uneven and sometimes just plain gross.
  • The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten. Two great collections of food essays and articles by an obsessive gastronome.
  • Salt: A world history and Cod: A biography of the fish that changed the world by Mark Kurlansky.
  • For a food porn fix: any of the Culinaria books. Gorgeous and heavy coffee-table books about food culture in different countries, rich in recipes and photographs.
I have avoided cookbooks, but many of these books have recipes in them as well.

And, just for fun, some of the foodie books on my TBR list:
  • The Art of Eating and The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher
  • Comfort Me With Apples by Ruth Reichl


bibliochef said…
I lobved Brillat Savarin. I would like to recommend a book called APples to Oysters (which focuses on Canadian food issues) as well as Laura Schenone The Lost Ravioli Recipe of Hoboken. By the way, I love the name bibliophile; I use bibliochef because my site focuses on food, books and related matters. Stop by -- and leave a note if you'd like to do a guest blog on food related mysteries!
Bibliophile said…
Thanks for the recommendations. I'm putting these books on my BookMooch wishlist.

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