New Book for My Spouse
December 7, 2004 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Need help with a gift for my spouse. She likes to read memoirs (not biographies) focused on food and/or travel. She's mined this category heaviliy, so titles published this year are a plus.
posted by mojohand to Shopping (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I read The Sex Lives of Cannibals, by J Maarten Troost, which came out this year. It was very funny.

I also have been reading Jeffery Steingarten -- It Must Have Been Something I Ate, which came out in paperback this year. I'm sure she's already read some of his stuff. His books are the collections of his food essays from Vogue. So funny.

If I remember any others I'll add them. :D
posted by sugarfish at 10:54 AM on December 7, 2004

If she hasn't read this already, go & get it.
posted by lilboo at 10:54 AM on December 7, 2004

She has probably read "A Year In Provence", but if not I highly recommend it. Has she read older books like this? "Living Well is the Best Revenge" came out so long ago that perhaps it never caught her attention.
posted by caddis at 10:58 AM on December 7, 2004

She may already have discovered this series (but just in case I thought it would be worth mentioning): Travelers' Tales

It looks like there's a new volume about Australia.
posted by handful of rain at 11:03 AM on December 7, 2004

The Slate Diaries collection is a great book for memoir-lovers.
posted by smackfu at 11:05 AM on December 7, 2004

Travel: "Baghdad Without a Map" by Tony Horwitz.

Food: "Stuffed" by Patricia Volk.
posted by naomi at 11:24 AM on December 7, 2004

How far back has she gone? 'Cause just about anything by M.F.K. Fisher or Elizabeth David are great.
posted by Vidiot at 11:24 AM on December 7, 2004

Hotel Bemelmans is a cracking book recounting the author's experiences in grand hotels in the mid 20th century. Same bloke who wrote the Madeline stories - although these are aimed at grown ups. Can't reccomend it enough.
posted by prentiz at 11:30 AM on December 7, 2004

I second the Elizabeth David suggestion. And third it. Cuz she's good stuff.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:53 AM on December 7, 2004

I've been enjoying Anthony Bourdain lately. His 'Kitchen Confidential' and 'A Cook's Tour' are a memoir and a travel book about food, respectively.
posted by box at 12:04 PM on December 7, 2004

I've loved everything by Bill Bryson. Especially In a Sunburned Country (about travels in Australia) and A Walk in the Woods (about hiking the AT).
posted by gregchttm at 12:11 PM on December 7, 2004

It's a little older but my favorite travel memoir was Tim Cahill's Road Fever. He is a fabulous writer about outdoors and travel and this one is about setting the Guinness Record for road travel from Terra Del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

It is a great read.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2004

Calvin Trillin's relatively recent "Feeding A Yen" is another of his typically fine food/travel books.
posted by Vidiot at 12:31 PM on December 7, 2004

If she has not read The Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin, it is very very worth it. Also second the MFK Fisher, who is not always in print, so might be someone she overlooked.
posted by OmieWise at 12:33 PM on December 7, 2004

Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl, former NYT food critic and current Gourmet editor in chief.

Of course, it's been all over NPR and what not, so she's probably read it already.
posted by The White Hat at 12:56 PM on December 7, 2004

M.F.K. Fisher, as mentioned above, is a writer who deserves to be read more than she is these days. The Art of Eating is a compilation of five of her best books: "Consider the Oyster," "Serve It Forth," "How to Cook a Wolf," "The Gastronomical Me" and "An Alphabet for Gourmets."

The essays therein are marvelous memoirs of cooking, eating, and travel.
posted by enrevanche at 1:20 PM on December 7, 2004

If she's mined the genre she may have already read this, but try Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. It's profane in places, so if she's delicate, forget it. However, it's a rich, funny read.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:03 PM on December 7, 2004

Doh! Beat to the punch. That's what I get for only scanning live links.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2004

I'll add another vote for Fisher and Reichel, although for the letter, I liked Tender at the Bone better than Apples. I thoroughly enjoyed The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, which details the life of students at the Culinary Institute of America. Incidentally, I'd like to thank Misters Ruhlman and Bourdain for helping me to realize how utterly unfit I would be in the culinary field.
posted by bibliowench at 2:12 PM on December 7, 2004

Oh yes, second The Making of a Chef. Ruhlman's follow-up, The Soul of a Chef, is also very good.
posted by Vidiot at 2:13 PM on December 7, 2004

I love Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes. There's some food-talk mixed in with renovating a villa in Italy. I don't know if that would be enough food/travel for your wife or not.
posted by belladonna at 5:16 PM on December 7, 2004

Travel: I enjoyed "In Patagonia,"by Bruce Chatwin. It's quirky but very well written.
posted by carter at 5:25 PM on December 7, 2004

I've just started reading A Thousand Days in Tuscany. It combines both the food and memoir things. It's the follow-up to A Thousand Days in Venice.
posted by naturesgreatestmiracle at 5:53 PM on December 7, 2004

I also really really liked The Magic of Provence by Yvone Lenard. Much better than most American-in-Provence books. Although, perhaps one of the reasons why I liked it was that I read it after visiting Ansouis, the small town where it's set.
posted by Vidiot at 8:16 PM on December 7, 2004

Leite's Culinaria presents this list of 2004's best "cookbooks". By my count, five of them are really food-related memoires. But that's only judging from covers or short descriptions. I've only begun to read one of them: Toast. Toast is getting excellent reviews, but it hasn't hooked me yet.

I've only read some of Trillin's writing in the New Yorker, but he's very good. Some of his books are on my wishlist.
posted by stuart_s at 9:35 PM on December 7, 2004

All the recommendations here are good, but you might also consider a subscription to Gastronomica, which is full of beautiful pictures and well-written essays, and can be something she looks forward to all year.
posted by melissa may at 11:19 PM on December 7, 2004

all good thoughts, but if she doesn't have this yet, then by all means get it for her. not exactly what you may have intended, but not a single gourmand that has gotten this book hasnt loved it

The Secrets of Pistoulet

Far away in the remote, untraveled southwestern French countryside, there is a small village which contains two homes, an eleventh-century church, and a very special farm known as Pistoulet
posted by angry jonny at 6:37 AM on December 8, 2004

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