Foodie Book Recommendations

Last year I had a clear out of my recipe books – I had over a hundred and many just weren’t used so off they went to a local charity book sale. The bookshelves were nice and tidy, briefly, before I started my MSc in Gastronomy at Queen Margaret University – I now have around fifty food books and counting. The topics cover a broad spectrum including food culture, philosophy, history, agriculture, soil science, nutrition, rewilding, the effects of our agriculture systems on the environment, food communications, foraging and food production. I’ve not read them all yet, some are for reference and dipping in and out of and others have been complete page-turners.

Recently,  people have been asking me for reading recommendations so here’s a round-up of my favourite Gastronomy books, these are books that I would enjoy reading regardless of whether I was studying or not. Who’d of thought I’d get so excited about microbes, food philosophy and rewilding. They’re in no particular order however my favourite, so far, is George Monbiot’s Feral, I couldn’t put it down. This 4- minute video on How Wolves Change Rivers gives you a really good flavour of the book.

feralFeral, Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life by George Monbiot

How many of us sometimes feel that we are scratching at the walls of this life, seeking to find our way into a wider space beyond? That our mild, polite existence sometimes seems to crush the breath out of us? Feral is the lyrical and gripping story of George Monbiot’s efforts to re-engage with nature and discover a new way of living. He shows how, by restoring and rewilding our damaged ecosystems on land and at sea, we can bring wonder back into our lives. Making use of some remarkable scientific discoveries, Feral lays out a new, positive environmentalism, in which nature is allowed to find its own way.

 

ethicalcarnivoreThe Ethical Carnivore by Louise Gray

We should all know exactly where our meat comes from. But what if you took this modern day maxim to its logical conclusion? What if you only ate animals you killed yourself?

Fed up of friends claiming to care about the provenance of their food, Louise Gray decides to follow the argument to its logical extreme. Starting small, Louise shucks oysters and catches fish. Gradually she gets to know people who teach her how to shoot pigeons and rabbits. As she begins to reconnect with nature and her own upbringing in the countryside, Louise starts to question modern attitudes to the meat we eat.

foodiesFoodies, Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Landscape by Josee Johnston

This important cultural analysis tells two stories about food. The first depicts good food as democratic. Foodies frequent ‘hole in the wall’ ethnic eateries, appreciate the pie found in working-class truck stops, and reject the snobbery of fancy French restaurants with formal table service. The second story describes how food operates as a source of status and distinction for economic and cultural elites, indirectly maintaining and reproducing social inequality. While the first storyline insists that anybody can be a foodie, the second  asks foodies to look in the mirror and think about their relative social and economic privilege.

hiddenhalfThe Hidden Half of Nature by David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé

The Hidden Half of Nature lays out the astonishing reality we’ve been missing in the soil beneath our feet and right inside our bodies- our world depends on a foundation of invisible life. This is a captivating story of the least-loved part of nature, taking readers through major milestones in agriculture and medicine to untangle our uneasy relationship with microbes. From the challenge of turning their barren Seattle lot into a flourishing garden through Bikle’s struggle with a surprise cancer diagnosis, the authors discover the power nature’s smallest creatures wield over our lives and stunning parallels in the relationships that microbes develop with plant roots and the human gut.

cookedCooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan’s Cooked takes us back to basics and first principles: cooking with fire, with water, with air and with earth. Meeting cooks from all over the world, who share their wisdom and stories, Pollan shows how cooking is at the heart of our culture and that when it gets down to it, it also fundamentally shapes our lives. Filled with fascinating facts and curious, mouthwatering tales from cast of eccentrics, Cooked explores the deepest mysteries of how and why we cook.

 

 

virtuesThe Virtues of The Table: How to Eat and Think by Julain Baggini

How we eat, farm and shop for food is not only a matter of taste. Our choices regarding what we eat involve every essential aspect of our human nature: the animal, the sensuous, the social, the cultural, the creative, the emotional and the intellectual. Thinking seriously about food requires us to consider our relationship to nature, to our fellow animals, to each other and to ourselves. So can thinking about food teach us about being virtuous, and can what we eat help us to decide how to live? This is a thought-provoking exploration of our values and vices.

 

cowssaveCows Save The Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth by Judith Schwartz

Journalist Judith Schwartz looks at soil as a crucible for our many overlapping environmental, economic, and social crises. Schwartz reveals that for many of these problems climate change, desertification, biodiversity loss, droughts, floods, wildfires, rural poverty, malnutrition, and obesity there are positive, alternative scenarios to the degradation and devastation we face. In each case, our ability to turn these crises into opportunities depends on how we treat the soil. Drawing on the work of thinkers and doers, renegade scientists and institutional whistleblowers from around the world, it challenges much conventional thinking about global warming and other issues.

manwhoateThe Man Who Ate Everything: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Food, But Were Afraid to Ask by Jeffrey Steingarten

Jeffrey Steingarten is to food writing what Bill Bryson is to travel writing. Whether he’s hymning the joys of the perfect chip, discussing the taste of beef produced from Japanese cows which are massaged daily and fed on sake, or telling us the scientific reasons why salad is a ‘silent killer’, his humour and his love of good food never fail. The questions he asks (like ‘Why aren’t the French dropping like flies?’) will challenge everything you assume you know about what you eat, yet his characteristic wit imparts masses of revelatory information in the most palatable of ways.

 

languageoffoodThe Language of Food: A Linguist Reads The Menu by Dan Jurafsky

Why do we eat toast for breakfast, and then toast to good health at dinner? What does the turkey we eat on Thanksgiving have to do with the country on the eastern Mediterranean? Can you figure out how much your dinner will cost by counting the words on the menu? In The Language of Food, Stanford University professor and MacArthur Fellow Dan Jurafsky peels away the mysteries from the foods we think we know. The fascinating journey through The Language of Food uncovers a global atlas of culinary influences. With Jurafsky’s insight, words like ketchup, macaron, and even salad become living fossils that contain the patterns of early global exploration that predate our modern fusion-filled world.

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2 Responses to “Foodie Book Recommendations”

  1. April 3, 2017 at 5:51 am #

    I love this post, it is always good to see what other food lovers are reading half way across the world 🙂
    Cheers

    Chloe

    • Nadine
      April 17, 2017 at 7:32 pm #

      hey Chloe, thanks for the comment, I have a few more to post – when I get the chance 🙂

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