Allo friends! Thanksgiving is over so we are now officially in the holiday shopping / making / gifting frenzy period.
People seemed to like the green gift guide for foodies that I did way back in 2007 (my, how time flies!) so I thought I'd give it another go. But this time I'm going to publish a series of three smaller gift guides, each one with a particular focus. This first one is for foodie bookworms. Feel free to share your suggestions via comments!
Great Gifts for People Who Like Books & Food
Put 'Em Up: a Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook This is a divine new canning and preserving cookbook. I LOVE it! It's great for everybody -- from newbies to experienced canners. But be prepared to be a little overwhelmed because you'll probably want to make everything in the book. I had one of those experiences where I started putting little colored post-it flags on the pages I liked best and then gave up when I realized I was basically flagging every page in the book since that kind of defeats the purpose.
Canal House Cooking Series These cookbooks are a feast for the eyes (and mouth). My friend, Naushon, got one a few months ago and I practically drooled looking through it... They've published five of them so far and you can buy them individually for roughly $20 a piece or get the whole set.
There are also lots of straight-up pleasure reads out there to indulge in. Here are a few I've enjoyed lately (though some of these are far from new...)
Farm City by Novella Carpenter -- this is simply an awesome read - funny, fascinating, and written from the heart. Novella's story about her experience starting a "squat farm" on the vacant lot next to her apartment in the 'hood in West Oakland. My review is here if you want more info.
On Rue Tatin by Susan Hermann Loomis - this wonderful book is a mix of personal history and recipes from her life in France - kind of an artistic and culinary delight. I've made a few of the recipes she includes in every chapter and have loved each one. Here's one of my favorite recipes for braised chicken with white wine, mustard and onions.
Long Ago In France by M.F.K. Fisher - this is a classic - a memoir of M.F.K. Fisher's introduction to France and French cooking when she lived there with her first husband in the early 1900s. I think this is a great place to begin with her writing -- and it will certainly whet your appetite for more of her books.
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl - I thought this personal history by the former editor in chief of Gourmet magazine was a great read - she just lays it all out there in a way that makes it impossible not to like her. I also picked up another of her books, Comfort Me With Apples, that is the second installment to Tender at the Bone on a recent business trip and liked that one, too. Humility, humor, brilliant descriptions of food and a darn good memoir to boot.
Or maybe you know a food-lover who prefers to read books about the intellectual or historical aspects of food. In that case, here are a few books, I would recommend.
I also feel honor-bound to include Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, The Botany of Desire and Food Rules in this list though I am putting them last since they're already so well-known. But they're all good reads and eye openers. It's probably not necessary to read all of them, especially the more recent ones since he ends up covering some of the same ground in more than one of them.
If the foodie in your life is not bookish, you may also want to check out the other installments of my 2010 gift guide. Browse through my suggestions for gadgets, gear and other assorted gee-gaws for food-lovers.