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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Great Books on Wine and Food

Winter is approaching…for many of us in the northern hemisphere, this means more time to read that stack of books we’ve been “meaning to get to.”  The holidays are also approaching and books often make terrific gifts.  Here are my Top 10  in which wine and/ or food are the central plot.

1.  Judgment in Paris ( George Taber)

This one is the classic of all classics for anyone who loves wine. Written by the Time Magazine correspondent who actually covered the world’s most famous wine tasting…where California red and white wines outscored those of France.  The tasting was blind, the panel was French, and the wines represented the top chateaux in France.  Nothing has been the same in the wine world since.
2. Salt—a World History (Mark Kurlansky) 

This is a must for any history buff who is also a serious foodie.  I couldn’t put the book down.  Written by a James Beard award-winning food author, this multilayered masterpiece traces the economic, scientific, political, religious and culinary aspects of salt through the centuries.  Don’t miss it.

3. The Widow Clicquot (Tilar Mazzeo)

Those of you coming with us on the 2013 trip to Champagne should put this toward the top of your must read list.  You’ll be mesmerized by the story of the early 19th century widow who single-handedly and against all odds, launched one of the most famous brands in Champagne, Veuve Cliquot (BTW…veuve in French means widow).  Highly recommended.

4.      A Year In Provence (Peter Mayle) 

If you haven’t read this hallmark book, order it today online.  There’s no finer introduction to Provence (or France for that matter) that seen through the eyes of this bon vivant writer.  You’ll laugh hysterically, you’ll be charmed, and all of your dreams about ever buying a crumbling home in France and restoring it will evaporate as you read his trials and tribulations of doing so.  Enchanting.

5.   Fast Food Nation  (Eric Schlosser)
Shocking, compelling and frightening all wrapped into one book.  This is imperative for any food lover who values healthy eating.  As the NYT so aptly put it, “It will make you think about the fallout that the fast food industry has had on America’s social and cultural landscape.”   

6.  Extra Virginity (Tom Mueller)
The subtitle on this recently published book says it all: “The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.  This work is to Olive Oil, what Fast Food Nation is to the meat industry.  But, there’s even more to the book.  Mueller provides a delectable work of historical research and of expert reporting resulting in an intriguing food-lovers call to action.

7.   Blood, Bones & Butter ( Gabrielle Hamilton)

There’s simply no way to describe this soul-searching memoir better than the way Mario Batali did….

“Gabirielle Hamilton has changed the potential and raised the bar for all books about eating and cooking.  Her nearly rabid love for all real food experience and her completely vulnerable, unprotected yet pure point of view unveils in both truth and inspiration.  I will read this book to my children and then burn all the books I have written for pretending to be anything even close to this.”

8.  The Man Who Ate Everything (Jeffrey Steingarten)

A kind of around-the-world-tour-in-eating written by the award-winning food editor of Vogue Magazine, fearless gourmand, and the irascible judge on the popular show "The Next Iron Chef."  While his humorous personality doesn't come across on TV, you'll be rolling on the floor at Steingarten's hilarious tales in print.  Tantalizing recipes are sprinkled throughout as a bonus.

9.   Olive Season (Carol Drinkwater)

Drinkwater has actually written a trilogy (Olive Farm, and the Olive Harvest) about life on her olive farm in the South of France.  All of these books are sensual, personal, well-crafted accounts of her life and love affair with a parcel of land.  A former British actress who played Helen Herriot in the BBC’s adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small, Drinkwater writes books that are slanted more toward women readers who can empathize with many of the issues that she so beautifully illuminates.

10.  Portraits of France (Robert Daley)

Another great read for Francophiles, this one is divided into vignettes…many of which center around France’s wine and food centric culture.  From tracing the fascinating life of a bottle of 1806 Lafite Rothchild to an evocative story on the birthplace of General Lafayette, this bestselling writer delivers something for everyone who enjoys history and gastronomy.

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