Just about this time last year, I told you about five books that I thought my readers might enjoy reading pool- (or beach- or hammock-) side. They were books that celebrated real food without the heaviness of being centered on our broken food system. If you liked those books, you might like this year’s list, too.
1. "My Life in France" by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme – This is the story of how Julia Child became one of the forerunners of the modern food movement without even knowing she was doing it. It’s a love story that chronicles her love for her husband, her love for France, and, of course, her love for food. The book was used as a guide for the Julia portion of last year’s "Julie & Julia". If you enjoyed the movie, you’ll love the book and you’ll have fun comparing the events in the book and how they were changed at times for the movie.
2. "French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew" by Peter Mayle – I told you about Mayle’s "A Year in Provence" — one of my favorite books of all time — in last year’s list. "French Lessons" is his fourth book about an Englishman’s experiences living in the South of France. He tells the tales of his travels to various food and wine festivals around France. In France, festivals for foods like frogs legs or snails are multiday celebrations with good food and passionate people, and you just may find yourself licking your lips wishing you had a bucket of snails in front of you as you read. You’ll definitely want a glass of wine to sip on while you’re reading this book.
3. "The Dolce Vita Diaries" by Cathy Rogers & Jason Gibb – I’ve done a separate review of this book about an English couple who left a lucrative career in American television and moved to Italy to grow olives and make olive oil. They didn’t know how to grow olives or speak Italian when they got there, but they found a way to make their dream work. The book includes several to-die-for recipes, too.
4. "Not for Bread Alone: Writers on Food, Wine, and the Art of Eating" edited by Daniel Halpern – If you’re not willing to commit to an entire book and just want a short read or two, this anthology includes 22 different authors including Wendell Berry’s famous essay, "The Pleasures of Eating" and short works by Alice Waters, Joyce Carol Oates, Alexandre Dumas and others.
5. "The Art of Eating In" by Cathy Erway – The newest book on this list, it’s a chronicle of one New York City woman’s year of not eating out. In New York City, where eating out is the number one form of entertainment (and they’ve got Broadway there), her choice was quite novel. The book tells of her culinary adventures, the people she met along the way, and offers several recipes. I should let you know that this book is on my summer reading list. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m fully expecting to enjoy it.