There seems to be an endless supply of books about food, cooking, processed foods, chefs, restaurants, baking, chefs that own restaurants, chefs that write books, cook books, “how to” books, reference volumes, don’t eat this, eat that, food marketing…..every damn thing.
I fancy myself an avid reader of all types of these books. I’ve read quite a few of them; some stand out more than others, here’s a list of my favorites, in no particular order.
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
I loved this book because it really dove into the food marketing industry. Moss wrote about the food industry in a way I hadn’t seen before, with new insight into how processed foods are developed and marketed. It’s also a good book that illustrates the role the processed food industry has played in the obesity epidemic in the United States, and also what role they’ll play in helping to reverse those effects. It’s an excellent read for the curious mind and for those that have an interest in learning more about food marketing.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
He’s known as kind of an asshole, but Anthony Bourdain has a sort of jerkyness that is almost charming. He’s a no-nonsense, doesn’t-fuck-around kind of guy. He’s serious about his kitchen. Kitchen Confidential is a great read and I most liked the chapter about what it’s like to work in a real kitchen. It’s food for thought for those that are interested in the culinary profession. A fun read too, this guys had some crazy adventures!
The New Food Lover’s Companion by Ron Herbst
Nary a day passes that I don’t open this one. Even if I don’t need to look up something specific, I will grab this book, open to a random page and just read what’s there. I love this book and consider it a must-have for anyone that enjoys cooking or learning about food.
The Professional Chef, by The Culinary Institute of America
Written by one of the most prestigious culinary institutions in the United States, The Professional Chef is as beautiful as it is informative. It’s geared toward professional chefs (duh) and written much like a text book would be, but it’s easy to consume for us lay people that are not professional chefs. At over 1200 pages, it’s quite an undertaking to get through. But it’s also great to browse through to look at the recipes and awesome photographs.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
It’s the original exposé about the food industry; specifically, the meatpacking industry. It’s graphic in its detail of the awful conditions workers were forced to work under, the abhorrent ways in which meat was handled and sold, and the plight of low-income immigrant workers. I think it’s pretty relatable to today’s world, even though we’ve made vast improvements in the way meat is processed; we’ve yet to make as much progress where immigrant labor and poor working conditions in this industry are concerned. If you haven’t read this one yet, put it on your list of books to read before you die.