This season’s most anticipated cookbooks have a sense of history


Through deeply personal memoirs and compelling biographies, this fall’s new food books feature authors, celebrity chefs and industry figures offering a clear insight into why they cook – and behave – as they do.

CNN’s Searching for Italy host Stanley Tucci shared his obsession with Italian food with two previous cookbooks, but his next memoir, Taste: My life through food, takes readers to the beginning of this love affair with cooking, both as a child and later as an actor in food-related films like Big night and Julie & Julia. Likewise, in You had me at Pét-Nat, independent magazine editor Rachel Signer explains how she became passionate about the allure of natural wines, first as a reporter and waitress in Brooklyn, then after falling in love and moving to South Australia.

Even familiar stories give way to twists and turns when read from a different perspective. Laurie Woolever, writer and editor who was Anthony Bourdain’s longtime assistant, uses quotes to bring readers deeper into her world in Bourdain: the definitive oral biography. From the details shared by his friends and family, we learn more about Bourdain’s good heart, how much he wanted to be a writer, his habit of getting agitated when he was uncomfortable, and the dark world he was in. he lived, especially when he traveled.

Image: Courtesy of Maarten van den Heuvel’s profile
Maarten van den Heuvel / Unsplash

The season’s cookbooks echo the origin story memoir trend with recipes that highlight family and pop culture writers’ influences, and their motivations. The global obsession with Great british pastry shop The franchise has made Nadiya Hussain and Vallery Lomas (via the US version) popular food influencers with highly anticipated baking books, both of which feature heartwarming cake recipes and ambitious pithiviers. But it is in personal essays and summaries that Hussain and Lomas illustrate how baking has become the center of their lives, and the lifestyle and career choices they have made to appear on the TV show. These stories are also what makes cookbooks love Mexican table treasures by PBS veteran Pati Jinich more personal and helpful. His motivation for his latest book? Showcase the culinary diversity of Mexico and the ingredients of the 32 states of its country of origin.

Ultimately, bringing readers back to the beginning helps make connections with pop culture and provides context for our behavior. In The Secret History of Food, writer Matt Siegel offers irreverent takes on some of our favorite foods, like chili peppers, ice cream, and tomatoes. He also delves into concepts such as Americans’ need for plenty of choice in grocery stores, how stylists make food more appealing and sultry using the same tools the film industry uses to adults (hence the term “food porn”), and the universal use of food words like “honey” and “pumpkin” as terms of affection. By exploring the etymology of foods like honey, we better understand what it means to call someone sweet.

This season’s essential cookbooks

Jamila recommends

The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook
by Cuong Pham, Tien Nguyen and Diep Tran

Cuong Pham, founder of the famous condiment company, tells his immigrant story, which includes the flight from Vietnam after the war, his connections to Apple founder Steve Jobs, and his continuing quest to honor his kitchen. mother.

Black food
by Bryant Terry

This compilation curated by author and chef Bryant Terry is a celebration of black culture that weaves food of African origin through poetry, essays and artwork.

Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America
by Mayukh Sen

James Beard Award-winning writer Mayukh Sen presents portraits of women in food, including Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan and Norma Shirley, a culinary giant from Jamaica.

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(Main and feature image credit: Miguel Ángel Camprubí)

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