Used to be that summer reading for me was a beach-worthy paperback, typically chick-lit fiction that’s sometimes borderline trashy, or a classic that I wanted to reread (“To Kill a Mockingbird” anyone?). And I couldn’t just read one book from cover to cover; I’d usually have a couple of books so I can switch back and forth.
Nowadays, my reading generally goes to something food-related, and I still juggle multiple books. I’ve been reading “Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child,” a gift from a friend. Author Noel Riley Fitch drew from Julia’s diaries and letters and presents a “before she was famous” portrait of this legendary chef. Learn about Julia the college student, her work at the OSS during World War II, her marriage to Paul Child and their travels around the world, her training at the Cordon Bleu, and of course, her trailblazing “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
On vacation a couple of weeks ago, I cracked open “Secrets of the Best Chefs” by Amateur Gourmet blogger Adam Roberts (www.amateurgourmet.com). Adam took a year and traveled around the country interviewing and, get this, cooking with 50 chefs, cookbook authors, food writers, and cooks. Talk about an incredible way to spend a year! Some names you’ve heard before (Alice Waters, José Andrés, Jonathan Waxman, Lidia Bastianich, Susan Feniger, to name a few), others you might not have. No matter. In Adam’s book, you get to know them all, and it’s a diverse and interesting mix of personalities, food, and culture. He worked in their restaurant kitchens and home kitchens, learning tips and tricks right from the masters. What’s great about the format of this book is that you can jump around and read Adam’s informative and humorous prose. And as a bonus, each chef contributed several recipes for all of us to enjoy.
I’ve gotten about 20 pages into “The Soul of a Chef,” by Michael Ruhlman (www.ruhlman.com), who struck gold in his outstanding “The Making of a Chef.” Ruhlman returns the Culinary Institute of America to detail the rigorous process of becoming a Certified Master Chef through the purview of three well-known chefs.
Assuming I get through all of these books before the official end of summer in late September, next on my list are:
- “For You, Mom, Finally,” Ruth Reichl’s homage to her mother
- Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking,” a cookbook I’ve been eager to dig into for some time
- “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” the latest from Michael Pollan, where he chronicles his journey of cooking from the perspective of the elements – fire, water, earth, and air – and pairs with different chefs to learn recipes using one of elements.
- And just because I’m a diehard Springsteen fan, I’m going to steal my husband’s copy of “Bruce,” an authorized biography by Peter Ames Carlin that promises an intimate look at the man, his influences, his passions, and the meaning behind his music.
What are you reading this summer?