6 Books You Should Read Before You Open Your Mouth


Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris

by A. J. Liebling

Elizabeth Benedict says:

I read this 15 years ago and loved it madly, along with the introduction by James Salter. (I think it was a North Point Press edition with a beautiful black and white photo of Paris in the 20s on the cover.) A.J. Liebling was gluttonous, bold, brash, yet a serious lover of French food and France in general (and boxing too) — and a writer of tremendous elegance. I'd throw in a few quotes but twelve years ago, I gave my copy of the book to someone who turned out to be unworthy. Could I please get it back?


The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

by Michael Pollan

Peter from Flashlight Worthy says:

I very occasionally come across a book I enjoy so much, that I buy copies for friends and more or less force them to read it. This is one of those books. The book is pretty straightforward. Pollan follows 4 kinds of meals from planting (or birth), through harvest (or slaughter), and onto the table. The 4 kinds are: Fast Food (a McDonald's Happy Meal), "Industrial" Organic (the organic food you see at major supermarkets), "Beyond Organic" (the food you see at health food stores and farmer's markets) and "Hunter/Gatherer" (Yep, he gathers mushrooms, picks cherries, and hunts a wild boar). The book's not preachy (he saves that for In Defense of Food), it's not especially gross (that was covered by Schlosser's Fast Food Nation), and it's very, very important. Read it.


The River Cottage Meat Book

by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Peter from Flashlight Worthy says:

With a name like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall you almost have to inherently trust anything this man says about meat. And I'll tell you, that trust is well-deserved. Fearnley-Whittingstall runs a 60 acre farm in Dorset, England where he's raised, slaughtered, and/or eaten pretty much every beast you or I might contemplate. Oh, and while this is definitely a cookbook, fully the first third of the book is dedicated to helping you "understand" meat — cuts, butchery, offal — pigs, chickens, cows, lamb, you name it. Yum!


In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

by Michael Pollan

Peter from Flashlight Worthy says:

This book is an excellent companion to The Omnivore's Dilemma, but also stands very well on its own. It's very brief (about 250 pages) and very important (it helps you decide how to eat healthily — what's more important than that?). In sum, Pollan offers a simple set of rules to help you choose the foods your body evolved to eat. I'm not crazy strict about my diet in any way, but what he wrote opened my eyes and caused me to make changes to my diet that were small and easy... but still extremely important. Do yourself a favor — read this book.

This book also appears on Every Book by Michael Pollan


On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

by Harold McGee

Michael Chu says:

Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" is probably the greatest food science book ever written in the English language. No recipes, just straight information on the history, science, and technology of food. A necessity on every cook's bookshelf.