Books About cooking, baking & restaurants - suitable for preteens
July 16, 2016 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for books similar to Delancey, Molly Wizenberg's memoir about starting a pizza restaurant with her husband. In other words, stories about food, cooking, baking, and restaurants that are written for adults but suitable for preteens.

My ten-year-old just devoured Delancey, and I'd love to give her more books like it.

I'm not looking for books that are strictly recipes, but books that combine stories and cultural explorations to dive deep into food. Could be fiction or non-fiction. And suitable for preteens means: minimal coarse language, no adult situations, sex or drug use. My daughter and I thank you!
posted by alicat to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Lucy Knisley has a graphic novel that talks about growing up with a chef for a parent. It's called Relish: My life in the kitchen and School Library Journal says it's okay for Gr 6 and up, so you might want to peek it in just to make sure it will work for your daughter (there is one comment in the AZ review you may want to look at. I don't think it's a big deal but depends what is right for your family. I also enjoyed Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World of Food: Brains, Bugs, and Blood Sausage which is written for a YA audience (again, grade six and up). A little on the gross side but if that works for you guys it's a lot of fun.
posted by jessamyn at 1:45 PM on July 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Note: both of these are nominally not written for adults but I read and enjoyed both of them.
posted by jessamyn at 1:48 PM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

You might want to skim through it first, but I don't think The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, Jacques Pepin's memoir, has much in the way of explicit content. It was written for adults but I think a bright ten-year-old could easily follow it, and it would expose her to some foodways that are completely different from the modern U.S.'s.
posted by praemunire at 2:44 PM on July 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I loved Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, Fuchsia Dunlop's memoir about her years in the Sichuan province of China leaning how to cook and falling in love with the country as she did so. It's been a few years since I read it, but I'm fairly sure there is no objectionable content in the book.
posted by asphericalcow at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking. It is SO SO SO good!
posted by bookworm4125 at 3:25 PM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found Ruth Reichl's Garlic & Sapphires, about her time as a food critic for the NYT, fascinating. I don't remember anything inappropriate for children in it but make no promises.
posted by jeather at 3:27 PM on July 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Would Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson interest your daughter? If so, there are lots of other recommendations I can make.
posted by poxandplague at 3:47 PM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ruth Reichel Tender at the Bone : Growing Up at the Table
posted by littlewater at 4:18 PM on July 16, 2016

David Chang's Momofuku is great but the language is probably a little too coarse for your preteen.

Mission Chinese Food by Myint and Leibovitz is great - it's about 60% stories about opening their business and 40% recipes.

You could also consider a subscription to Lucky Peach, a food quarterly. It's a little expensive and you would probably want to skim it for language and adult references before handing it to the preteen, but it's very good - lots of interesting stories, cool illustrations and infographics, recipes, etc.
posted by rossination at 4:22 PM on July 16, 2016

Cook off: Recipe Fever In America by Amy Sutherland is all about competitive cooking contests--including the Pillsbury Bakeoff. Some of the contestants include kids! Very fun and interesting read--it's been a few years since I read it but I can't remember any language or situations that would be inappropriate for kids.
Also--seconding Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin!
posted by bookmammal at 5:44 PM on July 16, 2016

Seconding Tender at the Bone. I read it when I was only a little older than your daughter and seem to have come out unscathed.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:09 PM on July 16, 2016

Gesine Bullock-Prado's My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time. Absolutely loved this.
posted by rivtintin at 8:02 PM on July 16, 2016

My 12yo loved both Relish and French Milk by Lucy Knisley.
posted by padraigin at 9:52 PM on July 16, 2016

Julia Child's ( / Alex Prudhomme's) "My Life in France" is readable, interesting, and enjoyable.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:37 PM on July 16, 2016

Thirding Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin! It's a favourite of mine, and I think I first read it when I was only a bit older than your daughter.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:53 AM on July 17, 2016

Seconding Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, and also the sequel, More Home Cooking.

Seconding, too, Ruth Reichl--any Ruth Reichl, probably.

John Thorne might be good, too. There's some food history in them, and recipes, as well as how he found himself at those recipes.

Anti-rec Lucky Peach--while I've enjoyed it and had a subscription for the first year or two, it's very much a boys' club, and it has the language and sometimes sexual references that'd go with that. I'm not especially comfortable with the idea of letting my almost-fourteen-year-old read it, and definitely would've said no to them at ten.
posted by mishafletch at 4:30 AM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

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