Books That Cook

Books That Cook

The Making of A Literary Meal

Book - 2014
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Whether a five-star chef or beginning home cook, any gourmand knows that recipes are far more than a set of instructions on how to make a dish. They are culture-keepers as well as culture-makers, both recording memories and fostering new ones. Organized like a cookbook, Books That Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal is a collection of American literature written on the theme of food: from an invocation to a final toast, from starters to desserts. All food literatures are indebted to the form and purpose of cookbooks, and each section begins with an excerpt from an influential American cookbook, progressing chronologically from the late 1700s through the present day, including such favorites as American Cookery, the Joy of Cooking, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The literary works within each section are an extension of these cookbooks, while the cookbook excerpts in turn become pieces of literature--forms of storytelling and memory-making all their own. Each section offers a delectable assortment of poetry, prose, and essays, and the selections all include at least one tempting recipe to entice readers to cook this book. Including writing from such notables as Maya Angelou, James Beard, Alice B. Toklas, Sherman Alexie, Nora Ephron, M.F.K. Fisher, and Alice Waters, among many others, Books That Cook reveals the range of ways authors incorporate recipes--whether the recipe flavors the story or the story serves to add spice to the recipe. Books That Cook is a collection to serve students and teachers of food studies as well as any epicure who enjoys a good meal alongside a good book.

Publisher: New York : New York University Press, [2014]
ISBN: 9781479830213
Branch Call Number: 641.5
Characteristics: xx, 343 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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ksoles Nov 04, 2014

The title "Books That Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal" sounds vague but intriguing; one might expect an anthology of excerpts from cookbooks featured in literary works. Instead, the editors have gathered an assortment of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir and essays centred around foods and dining. After an introduction by Marion Nestle, editors present these literary pieces as courses of a fine meal, from starters to desserts.

Selections include James Beard opining about chicken jelly, M.F.K. Fisher waxing nostalgic about fried egg sandwiches, Nora Ephron discussing the comfort of potatoes and Maya Angelou recalling her grandmother's Caramel Cake. Sherman Alexie shares a poem on canned meals and Laurie Colwin remembers the repulsive dinners of her past.

Furthermore, samplings from historical cookbooks provide fascinating information such as advice on the preparation of various meats (think pigeons and rabbits) from the first cookbook ever written by an American in 1796. Notes from Irma S. Rombauer's first edition of "The Joy of Cooking," self-published in 1931, remind readers how much has changed in the areas of food availability, preparation and tastes.

Some might find this book a tedious slog, free of both humour and personality. But readers interested in food, literature and history who pick up "Books That Cook" will discover a worthwhile, entertaining read and maybe even an old recipe that requires resurrection.


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