Food books worth devouring this summer
I’m just back from a weeklong vacation on the Florida coast, where I took a total social media and email sabbatical and instead read actual books and wrote in my actual journal. (Cue hand cramps!)
Hopefully, you all are finding some time to take a break from your normal routine, and if you’re looking for some books to keep you company while you’re at it, here is a summer reading list that we printed in last week’s food section.
First up is Jessica Soffer’s first novel, “Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24) the first piece of food-inspired fiction that I have read in a long time that didn’t make me cringe in its effort to appeal to foodies. Soffer weaves together several personal narratives, including from a self-abusing teenager seeking to gain maternal love through a recipe and an older Iraqi woman and former restaurateur lamenting a daughter she gave up for adoption, that all overlap, but not necessarily in the way we think they will.
Robin Davis, the food writer for the Columbus Dispatch, tells a similar, yet nonfictional, story of building familial ties over food in “Recipe for Joy: A Stepmom’s Story of Finding Faith, Following Love, and Feeding a Family” (Loyola Press, $13.95), and the evolution of “family” is at the center of blogger Jennifer Perillo’s first cookbook, “Homemade with Love” (Running Press, $27.50). When Perillo’s husband and father of their two daughters died unexpectedly in 2011, the food blogging community stepped in to comfort their mourning family, and her book and accompanying recipes tell the story of how she has used food to help keep his spirit alive.
Two New York Times writers have new food books this year. They include Michael Moss, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his reporting on contaminated meat. His new book, “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” (Random House, $28), digs into the processed food industry and the tactics and technology it uses to keep us coming back for more of their products. “How to Cook Everything” author Mark Bittman has turned his personal philosophy of eschewing animal products for most of the day into a how-to book called “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health … for Good” (Clarkson Potter, $26).
Rounding out the list is a book that certainly isn’t new but is new to me: “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” by Fannie Flagg, an author, screenwriter and actress who first published the story in 1987. Most of us have seen the 1991 movie starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker, but Flagg’s book is just as riveting and entertaining as the theatrical version, and even though I know what happens, it is captivating every free second of my time right now.
What books are you enjoying this summer?