I love food. There, I said it. I enjoy the whole process: planning what to eat, shopping for ingredients, cooking and baking dishes and, most of all, eating the labors of my work, as well as the works of others. I also enjoy reading about food. I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before my penchant for reading cookbooks the same way others read novels.
Then there are those books that actually are cookbooks disguised as novels. Most of them tend to fall into the cozy mystery category, which has everyone from coffeehouse owners to bakers, tea shop ladies to caterers and food writers to food truck operators solving crimes, while cooking great food in the process. Most of these even have recipes at the end of the book, so you can continue your relationship with the story and author after the dastardly perpetrator has been caught.
Recently, I’ve found myself enjoying more of the foodie fiction books that are not specifically mysteries. Here are just a few:
Chef’s Table by Lynn Charles – Chef Evan Stanford runs a successful New York restaurant, but his passion for his work is gone. And then he meets Patrick, the cook at his neighborhood diner. Patrick’s companionship, in the kitchen and the bedroom, reawaken Evan’s lust for cooking, and for life.
Aftertaste by Meredith Mileti – As if I needed another reason to read this book besides the food, it’s mostly set in Pittsburgh! There are specific references to the Strip District and the Pennsylvania Macaroni Factory and allusions to Enrico Biscotti Company. Follow along as Mira’s career and personal life is completely destroyed, and she builds it back up by returning to her roots.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert – Chef Lou Johnson is about to get an unwelcome surprise. Her fiancé is sleeping with his law firm’s intern, but he never understood why Lou wanted to be a chef anyway. Then she, literally, bumps into a man who could be “the one.” But Al has a secret that threatens to ruin any chance he has of a future with Lou. Can the chef whose restaurant fails forgive the man who wrote the scathing review that shut it down?
Delicious by Ruth Reichl – We’re used to reading Reichl’s books on her foodie upbringing, and her stint as editor in chief of Gourmet confirms that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to cuisine. But now she’s written a novel? Could it be any good? The answer lies in this tale that’s part chick lit, part foodie fiction, with a dash of romance and a hint of a puzzle to solve. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of the demise of an iconic food magazine and the interesting people it employed. The backdrop of New York City rings true, as only a book written by a New Yorker who loves its food scene could do.
If you’d like to explore these and similar titles, stop by the Main Library and browse the Food Fiction display I put up this week…
Happy Reading & Eating!
P.S. Ruth Reichl is coming to Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures’ Literary Evenings, Monday Night Lecture Series on October 26th. Get your tickets here. I’ve already got mine!