Voracious

voraciousby Cara Nicoletti
First sentence: “Growing up in a family of butchers and food lovers, I was surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of cooking from an early age.”
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Content: There’s nothing. Hand it to anyone who loves books and food. It’s in the cooking reference section of the bookstore.

The premise of this book is simple: Nicoletti, who studied English and Latin in college but whose professional life has been as a chef (and currently a butcher), has a passion for food scenes in books.  This is something she’s always enjoyed in books, especially since she grew up in a house surrounded by both books and food. So, pairing them both — first a blog, and then in this book — is a natural thing for her.

The book itself is a series of short vignettes, each about a particular book, followed by a recipe that, for her, fits each book. It’s a delightful read; she writes about experiences in her life, about where she is when she reads each book, and about what the books mean to her. I haven’t read a lot of the books (especially as Nicoletti moves into her adult years), but it didn’t seem to matter. She doesn’t go through plots and she doesn’t make you feel on the outside if you haven’t read them. This is what these particular books mean to her, and hopefully, it will resonate with you. (It did me.) And the recipes sound delicious! From donuts and cakes to soups and blinis and caviar, it all sounds delicious, and I will probably get around to making at least a few of them (hopefully). Even if I don’t, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the recipes. (Is that just me?)

An excellent read for those of us who prefer a little food with our books.

Audio book: My Kitchen Year

mykitchenyearby Ruth Reichl
Read by the author
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Content: There’s no swearing. It’s a cookbook, so it’s not something one typically reads, but her story is fascinating. It’s in the cook book section of the bookstore.

I picked this one up because I was looking for something to read. I knew it was a cookbook, but it’s Ruth Reichl, and I have loved her writing in the past. I figured it was worth my time.

And, for the most part, it was. It’s the story of the year following the folding of Gourmet magazine, of which she was editor, and how she found purpose again. And, because it’s Reichl, she found it through food.

I think, when I picked it up, I hoped there would be more stories and less recipes, but I was surprised to find that I didn’t mind the recipes. Reichl reads them as if she’s your friend, telling you how to make something (no list of ingredients at the top; I wonder what the print version looks like…), complete with advice and variations, in case you don’t like things the way she does. She has such a comfortable, familiar writing and reading voice, it was almost like spending time with a friend.

She made the food sound delicious, as well; thankfully, tis was a cookbook of the month at the store a while back, and so I know the recipes are good (especially the chocolate cake!). And the stories that accompanied the recipes — the book is organized by timeline rather than by recipe — are classic Reichl: simple and yet evocative.

So, even though listening to a cookbook is an unusual choice, I don’t regret picking this one up at all. It was delightful to spend some time hearing Reichl’s story.