Culinary Literature- Biographies and histories

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 11:50am -- jrusnak

Food is more than just sustenance for the body. The act of preparing food is sustenance for the soul. It is a great feeling to take various ingredients, carefully prepare them, and turn them into a wonderfully delicious meal one can enjoy in the coziness of home. Winter is the perfect time to try new recipes, perfect old ones, and wow friends and family alike with the skills we’ve learned in the kitchen.  Cook books, celebrity chef biographies, and novels with a culinary twist are just some of the places where ideas and recipes are found and where culinary curiosity is explored. Come into the Redwood Library today and grab one of these lovely books and expand your culinary horizon!

        Chef Biographies:

32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to working the Line

by Eric Ripert 

Winner of multiple Michelin Stars, Chef Eric Ripert began his passion for cooking at the age of 11, when to cope with the loss of his father; he befriended a local chef named Jacques. Little did he know that the afternoons watching Jacques in his kitchen and listening to his stories would ignite such a fiery passion that would one day propel Ripert to the top of his field. This is a wonderful portrait of a celebrity Chef as a young man


My Life in France and The French Chef in America

by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme

This biography in two parts follows the life of Julia Child. The first book follows her between the years of 1948 and 1954 while she and her husband are living in France. It is during the time that Julia finds her passion for French cuisine. The Second book, The French Chef in America, follows Julia Child in her return to America, on becoming the celebrity chef that we welcomed into our homes in the 1960’s with her show “The French Chef”, and her evolution in the culinary world until her death in 2004.

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen

by Jacques Pépin

A captivating memoir of the man that Julia Child had called the “best chef in America” tells his rise as a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old world kitchen to an Emmy award winning superstar that taught millions of Americas how to cook and shaped the nations tastes.

Blood, Bones & Butter

by Gabrielle Hamilton 

  The debut novel about finding ones calling in life not only is an informative and entertaining read but many well-known celebrity chefs including published chef Anthony Bourdain have given this book amazingly high praise. Following the life Gabrielle Hamilton through difficult times at a young age as her family unit broke apart, through early years as a waitress just trying to make ends meet, meeting her future ex-husband, raising a family and opening up a restaurant in New York City. Hamilton discusses it all and shows that though it is not easy, it’s possible to balance a family and a hectic career in the restaurant industry. 


Down and Out in Paris and London

 by George Orwell


     Before he was the man who penned Animal Farm and 1984, Orwell, whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair, studied the lower classes of England and France. Using the fake name P.S. Burton, Orwell went “native” dressing as a tramp and working lowly jobs for little pay. Down and Out in Paris and London describes what life was like for the poorer classes of Europe.

       Histories of Food and Drink: 

Northern Hospitality: Cooking by the Book in New England and America’s Founding Food: the Story of New England Cooking

by Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald

In Northern Hospitality, Stavely and Fitzgerald place the regions best-known cookbook authors in historical context and then follows that with 10 chapters of culinary temptations. The recipes are presented in their original textual form with commentaries accompanying designed to make them more accessible to modern day readers. 

  America’s Founding Food focuses on the traditional foods of the region including beans, pumpkins, seafood, meats, and baked goods as well as beverages like cider and rum. The authors show how New Englanders procured, preserved, and prepared their sustaining dishes.

Check out the author’s blog here


Mrs. Seely’s Cook-Book

by Mrs. Lida Seely

Originally published in 1902 at the heyday of what would be known as the Gilded Age, Mrs. Seely’s Cook-book goes well beyond what one thinks of a cookbook today. Within these pages is everything one would need to run a home during the Gilded Age. Seely was neither maid nor mistress but the owner and operator of an “intelligence agency” or employment agency for domestic servants. These pages contain not only wonderful recipes from the gilded age but the do’s and don’ts for servants and employers.


Food in the Gilded Age: What Ordinary Americas Ate

by Robert Dirks

The Gilded age is ripe with mansions large and small entertaining guest with colorful parties and lavish dinners. Robert Dirks looks underneath the gilded life to what the average person was eating at that time.


Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal

edited by Jennifer Cognard-Black and Melissa A. Goldthwaite

Organized like a cookbook, it is a collection of American literature written on the theme of food: from starts to dessert, from invocation to final toast. Each section begins with an excerpt from an influential American cookbook those progresses chronologically from the 1700’s to present day. There is also a recipe attached to each section to entice the reader to cook with this book, not just read it.


Lost Recipes of Prohinition

by Matthew Rowley

American Prohibition was far from watertight. If you knew the right people, or the right place to be, you could get a drink—most likely a variation of the real thing, made by blending smuggled, industrial alcohol or homemade moonshines with extracts, herbs, and oils to imitate the aroma and taste of familiar spirits. Most of the illegal recipes were written out by hand and secretly shared. The “lost recipes” in this book come from one such compilation, a journal hidden within an antique book of poetry, with 300 entries on making liquors, cordials, absinthe, bitters, and wine.  

Lost Recipes of Prohibition features more than 70 pages from this notebook, with explanations and descriptions for real and faked spirits. Readers will also find historic and modern cocktails from some of today's leading bartenders, including rum shrubs, DIY summer cups, sugar-frosted "ice" cordials, 19th- and 21st-century cinnamon whiskeys, homemade creme de menthe, absinthe-spiked cocktail onions, caramel lemonade, and more.