For the first time since I started this yearly summer reading list — I believe this is my ninth compilation — I didn't spent Memorial Day lounging in a chair at the local pool. I'm a little sad, but since both boys have jobs this summer, I may have a little extra time to read anyway. (It will be in my backyard or on the beach instead of poolside, but that's fine with me.)
If you're like me, your summer reading is a little lighter than what you read the rest of the year. That's why when I make summer reading recommendations, they're not heavy food policy books or cookbooks. Instead, they could be classified as memoirs or essays, with food and wine at the center of attention. With that in mind, here are my picks for this summer:
"Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman" by Alice Steinbach: Last year, I recommended Steinbach's "Without Reservations" and noted that was less food- and drink-heavy than some of my other recommendations. No so with "Educating Alice" — at least not the first chapter. Each chapter in the book is about somewhere in the world where the author immerses herself to learn something about the culture. In the first chapter, she enrolls as a culinary student at the famous Ritz Escoffier École de Gastronomie Française in Paris, and readers get to vicariously experience her culinary adventures, both at the cooking school and in the restaurants and cafés of Paris. Other chapters follow her adventures in locations like Scotland, where she learns about border collie training, and Havana, where she learns about architecture and art.
"Consider the Oyster" by M.F.K. Fisher: If there is such a genre as classic food writing, M.F.K. Fisher's writing would occupy several places on the genre's list. This short tribute to the oyster, only 98 pages in all, is absolutely delightful. The book contains oyster info, like the fact that they can spawn 15 to 100 million eggs at a time, as well as stories about her gastronomical encounters with oysters, recipes and even a discussion about their aphrodisiac effects. It's smart and if you read this while in close proximity to where fresh oysters are caught and prepared, I can only imagine you will be seeking them out by the time you finish the last page.
"The Best Food Writing 2016" edited by Holly Hughes: You know all those food magazines you have piled up waiting to read and those foodie websites you follow on Feedly that you never really get a chance to delve into? (Please tell me it's not just me.) Reading some of the entries "The Best of Food Writing 2016" will make you feel like you actually got to read the important stuff. With selections from the Edible publications, Food & Wine magazine, Serious Eats, Lucky Peach, The New Yorker and more, journalists, chefs and bloggers delve into all things food. There's something for everyone in the compilation, and because the stories are blog or magazine length, there's not much of a time commitment. If you only have 15 minutes to sit outdoors and read, you can finish at least one piece from beginning to end.
"A Drinker with a Writing Problem" by John Turi. First, I have to say that I'm a little bummed the title of this book is already taken because I think it's brilliant and could have been the title of a book I would write someday. The book is a collection of 12 of Turi's wine reviews (all rated 90 points are higher). He doesn't simply give tasting notes, he tells stories about the wine and why he's drinking them. When I got to the second review and realized he was about to review a wine from Missouri, I was hooked. I was about to learn a lot of things about wine that I didn't know. It's a quick read at 114 pages, and you can get through it in just a few hours, preferably while drinking a glass of wine or two.
Do you have any recommendations that would fit with this list of summer reads for a food and wine lover?