Cooks ‘n’ Books titles

August 8, 2019
Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives With Memory Loss by Jann Arden

Jann Arden moved in to a house just across the way from her parents in rural Alberta to be close to them but also so they could be her refuge from the demands of the music business and a performing career. Funny how time works. Since her dad died in 2015, Jann cooks for her mom five or six times a week. Her mom finds comfort in her daughter’s kitchen, not just in the delicious food but also just sitting with her as she cooks. And Jann finds some peace in caring for her mom, even as her mom slowly becomes a stranger. “If you told me two years ago that I’d be here,” Jann writes, “I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet we still fall into so much laughter, feel so much insane gladness and joy. It’s such a contrast from one minute to the next and it teaches me constantly: it makes me stronger and more humble and more empathetic and caring and kind.”

September 17, 2019
The Language of Baklava: A Memoir by Diana Abu-Jaber

Here is a vibrant, humorous memoir of growing up with a gregarious Jordanian father who loved to cook. Diana Abu-Jaber weaves the story of her life in upstate New York and in Jordan around vividly remembered meals: everything from Lake Ontario shish kabob cookouts with her Arab-American cousins to goat stew feasts under a Bedouin tent in the desert. These sensuously evoked meals in turn illuminate the two cultures of Diana’s childhood – American and Jordanian – and the richness and difficulty of straddling both. They also bring her wonderfully eccentric family to life, most memorably her imperious American grandmother and her impractical, hotheaded, displaced immigrant father, who, like many an immigrant before him, cooked to remember the place he came from and to pass that connection on to his children.

October 15, 2019
Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson and Veronica Chambers

It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations. Yes, Chef chronicles Samuelsson’s journey, from his grandmother’s kitchen to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a New York Times three-star rating at the age of twenty-four. But Samuelsson’s career of chasing flavors had only just begun—in the intervening years, there have been White House state dinners, career crises, reality show triumphs, and, most important, the opening of Red Rooster in Harlem. At Red Rooster, Samuelsson has fulfilled his dream of creating a truly diverse, multiracial dining room—a place where presidents rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, and bus drivers. It is a place where an orphan from Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, living in America, can feel at home.

November 19, 2019
The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis

(optional: Edna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original. A series of essays about Edna and her influence on the American cooking)
In recipes and reminiscences equally delicious, Edna Lewis celebrates the uniquely American country cooking she grew up with some fifty years ago in a small Virginia Piedmont farming community that had been settled by freed slaves. With menus for the four seasons, she shares the ways her family prepared and enjoyed food, savoring the delights of each special time of year.
The scores of recipes for these marvelous dishes are set down in loving detail. We come to understand the values that formed the remarkable woman—her love of nature, the pleasure of living with the seasons, the sense of community, the satisfactory feeling that hard work was always rewarded by her mother’s good food. Having made us yearn for all the good meals she describes in her memories of a lost time in America, Edna Lewis shows us precisely how to recover, in our own country or city or suburban kitchens, the taste of the fresh, good, natural country cooking that was so happy a part of her girlhood in Freetown, Virginia.

December 17, 2019
A Fork in the Road: Tales of Food, Pleasure & Discovery on the Road by Lonely Planet

Join us at the table for this 34-course banquet of original stories from food-obsessed writers and chefs sharing their life-changing food experiences.
The dubious joy of a Twinkie, the hunger-sauced rhapsody of fish heads, the grand celebration of an Indian wedding feast; the things we eat and the people we eat with remain powerful signposts in our memories, long after the plates have been cleared. Tuck in, and bon appetit!
Featuring tales from: James Oseland, Frances Mayes, Giles Coren, Curtis Stone, Annabel Langbein, Neil Perry, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Jay Rayner, Madhur Jaffrey, Michael Pollan, Josh Ozersky, Marcus Samuelsson, Naomi Duguid, Jane and Michael Stern, Francine Prose, Ma Thanegi, Kaui Hart Hemmings, Rita Mae Brown, Monique Truong, Fuschia Dunlop, David Kamp, Mas Masumoto, Daniel Vaughn, Tom Carson, Andre Aciman, MJ Hyland, Alan Richman, Beth Kracklauer, Sigrid Nunez, Chang Rae Lee, Julia Reed, Gael Greene.

January 21, 2020
Spilling the Beans by Clarissa Dickson Wright (from the BBC cooking show Two Fat Ladies)

Clarissa was born into wealth and privilege, as a child, shooting and hunting were the norm and pigeons were flown in from Cairo for supper. Her mother was an Australian heiress, her father was a brilliant surgeon to the Royal family. But he was also a tyrannical and violent drunk who used to beat her and force her to eat carrots with slugs still clinging to them. Clarissa was determined and clever, though, and her ambition led her to a career in the law. At the age of 21, she was the youngest ever woman to be called to the Bar.
Disaster struck when her adored mother died suddenly. It was to lead to a mind-numbing decade of wild over-indulgence. Rich from her inheritance, in the end Clarissa partied away her entire fortune. It was a long, hard road to recovery along which Clarissa finally faced her demons and turned to the one thing that had always brought her joy – cooking. Now at last she has found success, sobriety and peace.
With the stark honesty and the brilliant wit we love her for, Clarissa recounts the tale of a life lived to extremes. A vivid and funny story, it is as moving as it is a cracking good read.

February 18, 2020
Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey

At the French Culinary Institute, Lauren Shockey learned to salt food properly, cook fearlessly over high heat, and knock back beers like a pro. But she also discovered that her real culinary education wouldn’t begin until she actually worked in a restaurant. After a somewhat disappointing apprenticeship in the French provinces, Shockey hatched a plan for her dream year: to apprentice in four high-end restaurants around the world. She started in her hometown of New York City under the famed chef Wylie Dufresne at the molecular gastronomy hotspot wd-50, then traveled to Vietnam, Israel, and back to France. From the ribald kitchen humor to fiery-tempered workers to tasks ranging from the mundane (mincing cases of shallots) to the extraordinary (cooking seafood on the line), Shockey shows us what really happens behind the scenes in haute cuisine, and includes original recipes integrating the techniques and flavors she learned along the way. With the dramatic backdrop of restaurant life, readers will be delighted by the adventures of a bright and restless young woman looking for her place in the world.

March 17, 2020
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with her first nonfiction narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.
“As the U.S. population made an unprecedented mad dash for the Sun Belt, one carload of us paddled against the tide, heading for the Promised Land where water falls from the sky and green stuff grows all around. We were about to begin the adventure of realigning our lives with our food chain.
“Naturally, our first stop was to buy junk food and fossil fuel. . . .”
Hang on for the ride: With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humored search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that’s better for the neighborhood and also better on the table. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.
“This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air.”

April 21, 2020
Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War by Annia Ciezadlo

In the fall of 2003, as Iraq descended into civil war, Annia Ciezadlo spent her honeymoon in Baghdad. For the next six years, she lived in Baghdad and Beirut, where she dodged bullets during sectarian street battles, chronicled the Arab world’s first peaceful revolution, and watched Hezbollah commandos invade her Beirut neighborhood. Throughout all of it, she broke bread with Sunnis and Shiites, warlords and refugees, matriarchs and mullahs. Day of Honey is her story of the hunger for food and friendship during wartime—a communion that feeds the soul as much as the body.
In lush, fiercely intelligent prose, Ciezadlo uses food and the rituals of eating to uncover a vibrant Middle East most Americans never see. We get to know people like Roaa, a young Kurdish woman whose world shrinks under occupation to her own kitchen walls; Abu Rifaat, a Baghdad book lover who spends his days eavesdropping in the ancient city’s legendary cafés; and the unforgettable Umm Hassane, Ciezadlo’s sardonic Lebanese mother-in-law, who teaches her to cook rare family recipes (included in a mouthwatering appendix of Middle Eastern comfort food). From dinner in downtown Beirut to underground book clubs in Baghdad, Day of Honey is a profound exploration of everyday survival—a moving testament to the power of love and generosity to transcend the misery of war.

May 19, 2020
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl

When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America’s oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a manager, and had no inclination to be anyone’s boss. Yet Reichl had been reading Gourmet since she was eight; it had inspired her career. How could she say no?
This is the story of a former Berkeley hippie entering the corporate world and worrying about losing her soul. It is the story of the moment restaurants became an important part of popular culture, a time when the rise of the farm-to-table movement changed, forever, the way we eat. Readers will meet legendary chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert, idiosyncratic writers like David Foster Wallace, and a colorful group of editors and art directors who, under Reichl’s leadership, transformed stately Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. This was the golden age of print media—the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.
Complete with recipes, Save Me the Plums is a personal journey of a woman coming to terms with being in charge and making a mark, following a passion and holding on to her dreams—even when she ends up in a place she never expected to be.

June 16, 2020
Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship With Recipes by Amanda Hesser

Life in the city, love, and unforgettable meals—can a food writer find happiness with a man who has an empty refrigerator? Amanda Hesser’s irresistible book is the tale of a romance where food is the source of discovery, discord, and delight—a story of universal desires: good food, great company, and a mate.
At each stage of her courtship—from her first date with “Mr. Latte” (a near-disaster) to her first uneasy dinner at his parents’ home, from intimate suppers in her Upper West Side apartment to his first attempt at cooking for her—Amanda supplies menus for the meals they share: more than one hundred well-balanced and well-seasoned recipes that will leave you satisfied yet wanting more.
With warmth and honesty, Amanda shares her feasts and foibles, triumphs and near-misses, tense encounters and good times in the kitchen and beyond. Her humorous, sensuous tale leads us date by date, recipe by recipe, to a jubilant conclusion.