In March, we introduced a new service: the Reading Doctor. Read more about Dr Louise here. And do feel free to request further prescriptions, as needed!
Prescription #11: something to make you hungry
I love reading about food - familiar food, and exotic dishes from faraway places, too – but daily lockdown cooking has turned food into a bit of a chore. Can you recommend some writing about food to re-interest me?
The food we eat and how we eat it is defining, which is perhaps why food writing so often becomes memoir.
Explore these glimpses into the lives of others as revealed in their culinary habits, sitting around their dining tables, and bubbling away in their kitchens:
Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously is the book by Julie Powell which is based on her blog and inspired a film, in which she documents her daily experiences over a year cooking each of the 524 recipes from Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Anne Else’s memoir, The Colour of Food: A Memoir of Life, Love and Dinner, begins with a 19-year-old newlywed who’s never cooked a meal, through a lifetime of feasts, friends, joys and sorrows.
Describing his time spent working in restaurant kitchens, George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London is his first full length work, a memoir which looks at the poverty at the heart of two prosperous cities.
The memoirs of chef, food-writer and critic Ruth Reichl begin with Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, a highlight of which are her attempts to disguise herself so as to remain an anonymous restaurant reviewer.
Testament to the way in which the history of food is bound up with the history of human civilisation is Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky, inspiring exploration, travel, conflict and revolution on its journey to the table.
In The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas, Gertrude Stein narrates the life of her partner – described as a writer of contemplative cookbooks – and their life together in Paris during the early 20th century, where they hosted a salon attended by avante-garde writers and artists.
With Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain told tales and revealed the secrets of commercial kitchens, describing them as intense and unpleasant: you’ll never order hollandaise sauce again.
The Man who ate Everything is Jeffrey Steingarten, a food writer and critic who wrote this witty collection of essays about his time spent living on the same level as that used for US food stamp entitlements.
Every childhood should be blessed with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the picture book by Eric Carle, in which transformation comes with a meal plan.