Do you live, breathe and read food? The food memoir is one of our favorite literary genres, which makes sense given our culinary obsessions. From Ruth Reichl’s most recent memoir to a 1954 classic by M.F.K. Fisher, this list of favorites spans decades of thought and experience in cuisine. Put a few of these food memoirs on your list for summer vacation reading – you won’t be sorry. Read on for a tasty summer book list.
1. Save Me the Plums
Ruth Reichl has already written several gems of the genre: Comfort Me with Apples, Tender at the Bone, and Garlic and Sapphires, among others. But Save Me the Plums is about her decade helming Gourmet magazine, which became the food magazine to read under her direction.
2. My Life in France
Written in the last months of her life and published posthumously, this sweet memoir takes you past the impeccable recipes, and right to the heart of Julia’s experiences in France.
3. Blood, Bones & Butter
Chef Gabrielle Hamilton shares honestly and vividly in this beautifully written memoir about her childhood, love of food, role as wife, mother and chef/owner of the New York restaurant Prune. Hard to put down.
4. Yes, Chef
The unique voice of Marcus Samuelsson shines through in this memoir. His extraordinary journey from Ethiopia to Sweden to New York City (with many stops along the way) is moving and inspiring. Go on this journey with him.
5. 32 Yolks
This captivating book is an easy read that explains the difficult road to being a truly great chef but also being a great person. Chef Eric Ripert’s kind heart, humility, and empathy are palpable on the pages.
6. The Art of Eating
One of the greatest of food writers (27 books!) M. F. K. Fisher is witty and entertaining. Her writing has made her immortal. A must for every culinarian, though do note, it’s a hefty book to bring on a plane if you’re heading to a vacation spot.
7. The Sweet Life in Paris
Those who read his excellent blog already know that David Lebovitz is an ex-pat chef and writer with a charming voice, keen eye, and mad skills in the kitchen. Explore Paris in all its confusion and glory with David, and prepare to laugh.
8. Buttermilk Graffiti
Part memoir, part road-trip, and part culinary history, this extraordinary book by Edward Lee takes you across the U.S. and into the kitchens of restaurants and homes to explore the origins of the people and the meals. A fresh type of food memoir.
9. The Cooking Gene
In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty traces the roots of his family and the origins of soul food in the American south. There’s a lot packed in this well-written book.
10. Love, Loss and What We Ate
You know her from Top Chef but you’ll love her after reading this heartfelt memoir of a life balanced between India and America.
11. The Raw and the Cooked
This book is a collection of the late Jim Harrison’s legendary columns and articles on food. He was one of the great American writers, and food was one of his greatest passions. If you haven’t dipped into his magnificent writing on food, start here.
12. Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat
Chef Grant Achatz was well-established as a culinary talent when he was diagnosed with tongue cancer, and the treatment destroyed his ability to taste. A chef without a palate? This memoir goes deep.
This is a partial list – there are so many more we would love to include. What are your favorite food memoirs?
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