A Taste of the Library: A Reading List

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 12:59pm -- baglio

This next reading list is for the fans of food and drink. Please enjoy our selection of titles that focus on the history and culture of delicacies and beverages This reading list will be sure to leave you hungry and thirsty!

A History of the World in 6 Glasses

By, Tom Standage

From beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human history.

Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.

 

But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria!: Adventures in Eating, Drinking, and Making Merry

By, Julia Reed

 In her new book, But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria!, Julia Reed, a master of the art of eating, drinking, and making merry, takes the reader on culinary adventures in places as far flung as Kabul, Afghanistan and as close to home as her native Mississippi Delta and Florida's Gulf Coast. Along the way, Reed discovers the perfect Pimm's Royale at the Paris Ritz, devours delicious chuletons in Madrid, and picks up tips from accomplished hostesses ranging from Pat Buckley to Pearl Bailey and, of course, her own mother. Reed writes about the bounty―and the burden―of a Southern garden in high summer, tosses salads in the English countryside, and shares C.Z. Guest's recipe for an especially zingy bullshot. She understands the necessity of a potent holiday punch and serves it up by the silver bowl full, but she is not immune to the slightly less refined charms of a blender full of frozen peach daiquiris or a garbage can full of Yucca Flats. And then there are the parties: shindigs ranging from sultry summer suppers and raucous dinners at home to a Plymouth-like Thanksgiving feast and an upscale St. Patrick's Day celebration. This delightful collection of essays by Julia Reed, a master storyteller with an inimitable voice and a limitless capacity for fun, will show you how to entertain guests with style, have a good time yourself and always have that perfect pitcher of sangria ready at a moment's notice.

 

Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurant Style in America

By, Alison Pearlman

Fine dining and the accolades of Michelin stars once meant chandeliers, white tablecloths, and suited waiters with elegant accents. The stuffy attitude and often scant portions were the punchlines of sitcom jokes—it was unthinkable that a gourmet chef would stoop to plate a burger or a taco in his kitchen. And yet today many of us will queue up for a seat at a loud, crowded noodle bar or eagerly seek out that farm-to-table restaurant where not only the burgers and fries are  organic but the ketchup is homemade—but it’s not just us: the critics will be there too, ready to award distinction. Haute has blurred with homey cuisine in the last few decades, but how did this radical change happen, and what does it say about current attitudes toward taste? Here with the answers is food writer Alison Pearlman. In Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurant Style in America, Pearlman investigates what she identifies as the increasing informality in the design of contemporary American restaurants. 

By design, Pearlman does not just mean architecture. Her argument is more expansive—she is as interested in the style and presentation of food, the business plan, and the marketing of chefs as she is in the restaurant’s floor plan or menu design. Pearlman takes us hungrily inside the kitchens and dining rooms of restaurants coast to coast—from David Chang’s Momofuku noodle bar in New York to the seasonal, French-inspired cuisine of Alice Waters and Thomas Keller in California to the deconstructed comfort food of Homaro Cantu’s Moto in Chicago—to explore the different forms and flavors this casualization is taking. Smart Casual examines the assumed correlation between taste and social status, and argues that recent upsets to these distinctions have given rise to a new idea of sophistication, one that champions the omnivorous. The boundaries between high and low have been made flexible due to our desire to eat everything, try everything, and do so in a convivial setting.

Through lively on-the-scene observation and interviews with major players and chefs, Smart Casual will transport readers to restaurants around the country to learn the secrets to their success and popularity. It is certain to give foodies and restaurant-goers something delectable to chew on.

 

Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World

By, Charles A Coulombe

Charles A Coulombe's "Rum: The Epic Story Of The Drink That Conquered The World" is an excellent exposition on practical economics and is deceptively understated in giving superb lessons in history, religion, trade policy, politics, military history and methods, and holidays. To pack so much into a work that is also a delight to read, and in addition provides a welcome addition to the bartender's bookshelf is as generous as a round on the house.

This book is about rum. But we must keep in mind that this centerpiece is well chosen, and very much after the "Wall Street Journal" style of journalism, and selecting a commodity and nation to explain economic history. The discovery of the new world, and of sugar cane and the production of high volume spirits from the bountiful plant, truly shaped the entire fabric of history and western civilization for centuries. The importance of rum cannot be overstated when applied to looking at American and European history.

This is a non-fiction work, and is comparable to Mark Kurlansky's "Salt" and his equally good "Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World" in scope and structure in following the life of the commodity subject. However, we must be realistic: reading a book about rum is a lot more fun than reading a book about fish and a Margarita garnish, and so Coulombe wins the crown for topical economic history.

 

The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game

By, Edward Achorn

Chris von der Ahe knew next to nothing about base¬ball when he risked his life's savings to found the franchise that would become the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet the German-born beer garden proprietor would become one of the most important—and funniest—figures in the game's history.

Von der Ahe picked up the team for one reason—to sell more beer. Then he helped gather a group of ragtag professional clubs together to create a maverick new league that would fight the haughty National League, reinventing big-league baseball to attract Americans of all classes. Sneered at as “The Beer and Whiskey Circuit” because it was backed by brewers, distillers, and saloon owners, their American Association brought Americans back to enjoying baseball by offering Sunday games, beer at the ballpark, and a dirt-cheap ticket price of 25 cents.

The womanizing, egocentric, wildly generous Von der Ahe and his fellow owners filled their teams' rosters with drunks and renegades, and drew huge crowds of rowdy spectators who screamed at umpires and cheered like mad as the Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns fought to the bitter end for the 1883 pennant.

In The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, Edward Achorn re-creates this wondrous and hilarious world of cunning, competition, and boozing, set amidst a rapidly transforming America. It is a classic American story of people with big dreams, no shortage of chutzpah, and love for a brilliant game that they refused to let die.

 

In Vino Duplicitas: The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire

By, Peter  Hellman

Few gain entry to the privileged world of ultrafine wines, where billionaires flock to exclusive auction houses to vie for the scarce surviving bottles from truly legendary years. But Rudy Kurniawan, an unknown twentysomething from Indonesia, was blessed with two gifts that opened doors: a virtuoso palate for wine tasting, and access to a seemingly limitless (if mysterious) supply of the world’s most coveted wines.

After bursting onto the scene in 2002, Kurniawan quickly became the leading purveyor of rare wines to the American elite. But in April 2008, his lots of Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis red burgundy—dating as far back as 1945—were abruptly pulled from auction. The problem? The winemaker was certain that this particular burgundy was first produced only in 1982.

Journalist Peter Hellman was there, and he would closely investigate as a singular cast of characters—including a Kansas-born billionaire and self-proclaimed “hoarder,” a dignified Burgundian winemaker, a wine-loving young prosecutor, and a crusty FBI agent who prepared for the case by reading French Wine for Dummies—worked to unravel the biggest con in wine history. Whether driven by the love of wine or of justice, all were asking the same question: Was the mild-mannered Kurniawan himself a dupe? Or had one young man—with little experience and few connections—ensnared the world’s top winemakers, sellers, and drinkers in a web of deceit?

 

To Cork or Not To Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle 

By, George M Taber

In Judgment of Paris, George M. Taber masterfully chronicled the historic 1976 wine tasting when unknown California wines defeated top French ones, marking a major turning point in wine history. Now he explores the most controversial topic in the world of wine: What product should be used to seal a bottle? Should it be cork, plastic, glass, a screwcap, or some other type of closure still to be invented? 

For nearly four centuries virtually every bottle of wine had a cork in it. But starting in the 1970s, a revolution began to topple the cork monopoly. In recent years, the rebellion has been gathering strength. Belatedly, the cork industry began fighting back, while trying to retain its predominant position. Each year 20 billion closures go onto wine bottles, and, increasingly, they are not corks. 

The cause of the onslaught against cork is an obscure chemical compound known as TCA. In amounts as low as several parts per trillion, the compound can make a $400 bottle of wine smell like wet newspaper and taste equally bad. Such wine is said to be "corked." While cork's enemies urge people to throw off the old and embrace new closures, millions of wine drinkers around the world are still in love with the romance of the cork and the ceremony of opening a bottle. 

With a thorough command of history, science, winemaking, and marketing, Taber examines all sides of the debate. Along the way, he collects a host of great characters and pivotal moments in the production, storage, and consumption of wine, and paints a truly satisfying portrait of a wholly intriguing controversy. As Australian winemaker Brian Croser describes it: "It's scary how passionate people can be on this topic. Prejudice and extreme positions have taken over, and science has often gone out the window."

 

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation

By, David Camp

One day we woke up and realized that our "macaroni" had become "pasta," that our Wonder Bread had been replaced by organic whole wheat, that sushi was fast food, and that our tomatoes were heirlooms. How did all this happen, and who made it happen? Journalist Kamp chronicles the transformation from the overcooked vegetables and gelatin salads of yore to our current heyday of free-range chickens and extra-virgin olive oil. He depicts the "Big Three" who led us out of the culinary wilderness: James Beard, the hulking Oregonian who made the case for American cookery; Julia Child, the warbling giantess who demystified French cuisine; and Craig Claiborne, the melancholy Mississippian who all but invented food journalism. The story continues with commentary from the food figures who followed: Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower, Wolfgang Puck, the visionary chefs we know by one name (Emeril, Daniel, Mario, Jean-Georges), and many others.

 

Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine

By, Kevin Begos

Discover the hidden life of wine.

After a chance encounter with an obscure Middle Eastern red, journalist Kevin Begos embarks on a ten-year journey to seek the origins of wine. What he unearths is a whole world of forgotten grapes, each with distinctive tastes and aromas, as well as the archaeologists, geneticists, chemists—even a paleobotanist—who are deciphering wine down to molecules of flavor. We meet a young scientist who sets out to decode the DNA of every single wine grape in the world; a researcher who seeks to discover the wines that Caesar and Cleopatra drank; and an academic who has spent decades analyzing wine remains to pinpoint ancient vineyards. Science illuminates wine in ways no critic can, and it has demolished some of the most sacred dogmas of the industry: for example, well-known French grapes aren’t especially noble.

We travel with Begos along the original wine routes—starting in the Caucasus Mountains, where wine grapes were first domesticated eight thousand years ago; then down to Israel and across the Mediterranean to Greece, Italy, and France; and finally to America where vintners are just now beginning to make distinctive wines from a new generation of local grapes. Imagine the wine grape version of heirloom vegetables or craft beer, or better yet, taste it: Begos offers readers drinking suggestions that go far beyond the endless bottles of Chardonnay and Merlot found in most stores and restaurants.

In this viticultural detective story wine geeks and history lovers alike will discover new tastes and flavors to savor.

 

The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats

By, Daniel Stone

The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes—

and thousands more—to the American plate.

In the nineteenth century, American meals were about subsistence, not enjoyment. But as a new century approached, appetites broadened, and David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.

Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild’s finds weren’t just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America’s capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.

 

The Gourmands' Way: Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy

By, Justin Spring

During the thirty-year boom in France following World War II―les Trente Glorieuses―Paris was not only the world’s most stylish tourist destination, it was also the world capital of gastronomic genius. In The Gourmands’ Way, Justin Spring tells the story of six American writer-adventurers having the time of their lives in the City of Light during this period and, in doing so, transforming the way Americans talk and think about food―and the way they eat.

The six are A. J. Liebling, Alice B. Toklas, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Alexis Lichine, and Richard Olney. The Gourmands’ Way is the first book ever to look at these unforgettable figures as a group. It is also the first to focus specifically on their Paris-based adventures. Liebling was a great war correspondent, reporter, and humorist who opens Spring’s narrative by sweeping into Paris with the French and Allied forces in August 1944; Toklas was Gertrude Stein’s life partner who reinvented herself at age seventy-five as a cookbook author; Fisher was a sensualist storyteller and fabulist; Child was a cookbook author, America’s greatest television food celebrity, and the reinventor of the dinner party; Lichine was an ambitious wine merchant who, through an astounding series of risk-taking ventures, became the leading importer of French wines in America; and Olney was a reclusive but freewheeling artist who reluctantly evolved into one of the foremost American writers on French cuisine and French wine.

Justin Spring focuses on the most joyful, exciting, formative, and dramatic moments of these six lives, many of which were intimately connected to the exploration and discovery of fine French food and drink―whether they experienced it at top Michelin-starred restaurants or straight from a hot plate in an artist’s garret. The Gourmands’ Way leads us through both the fabled world of haute cuisine and the vibrant bohemian and artistic haunts of the Left Bank during the 1950s. Intimate, anecdotal, and beautifully researched, The Gourmands’ Way is an eye-opening exploration of the rich, storied annals of mid-twentieth-century Franco-American culinary history.

 

Ten Restaurants That Changed America

By, Paul Freedman

Combining a historian’s rigor with a foodie ’s palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled The Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone’s, or chronicling the rise and fall of French haute cuisine through Henri Soulé’s Le Pavillon, food historian Paul Freedman uses each restaurant to tell a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. Freedman also treats us to a scintillating history of the then-revolutionary Schrafft’s, a chain of convivial lunch spots that catered to women, and that bygone favorite, Howard Johnson’s, which pioneered midcentury, on-the-road dining, only to be swept aside by McDonald's. Lavishly designed with more than 100 photographs and images, including original menus, Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a significant and highly entertaining social history.

 

Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World's Greatest Wine

By, Maximillian Potter

In January 2010, Aubert de Villaine, the famed proprietor of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the tiny, storied vineyard that produces the most expensive, exquisite wines in the world, received an anonymous note threatening the destruction of his priceless vines by poison-a crime that in the world of high-end wine is akin to murder-unless he paid a one million euro ransom. Villaine believed it to be a sick joke, but that proved a fatal miscalculation and the crime shocked this fabled region of France. The sinister story that Vanity Fair journalist Maximillian Potter uncovered would lead to a sting operation by some of France's top detectives, the primary suspect's suicide, and a dramatic investigation. This botanical crime threatened to destroy the fiercely traditional culture surrounding the world's greatest wine.

Shadows in the Vineyard takes us deep into a captivating world full of fascinating characters, small-town French politics, an unforgettable narrative, and a local culture defined by the twinned veins of excess and vitality and the deep reverent attention to the land that runs through it.