Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Food Literature Book Reviews

Lilla's Feast : A True Story of Food, Love, and War in the Orient
by Frances Osborne

At the end of her life, Frances Osborne's one-hundred-year-old great-grandmother Lilla was as elegant as ever-all fitted black lace and sparkling-white diamonds. To her great-grandchildren, Lilla was both an ally and a mysterious wonder. Her bedroom was filled with treasures from every exotic corner of the world. But she rarely mentioned the Japanese prison camps in which she spent much of World War II, or the elaborate cookbook she wrote to help her survive behind the barbed wire. Lilla's Feast is a rich evocation of a bygone world, the inspiring story of an ordinary woman who tackled the challenges life threw in her path with an extraordinary determination.





When Fish Fly : Lessons for Creating a Vital and Energized Workplace - From the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market
by John Yokoyama, Joseph Michelli

The remarkable story of the Pike Place Fish Market -- told by the owner, who transformed the small company into the world famous business depicted in the bestselling parable FISH!

In this revealing business advice book, the magic of the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market proves a dynamic example of what a group of people can create when they are aligned and living a powerful vision. Here for the first time, owner John Yokoyama explains in his own words just how he transformed his business into a workplace that is renowned worldwide.





The Big Picture
by Douglas Kennedy

Ben Bradford is a Wall Street lawyer living a comfortable life with a wife and two small children, but he seems to be heading for a mid-life crisis. He feels his life ebbing away. Beth, his wife, a frustrated novelist, is increasingly estranged from him. Then Ben discovers that she has taken a lover, and in a confrontation with the man, kills him. Ben carefully covers up his crime, disappears, and takes on his victim's identity. The Big Picture has to be the most careful and imaginative exploration of such a situation ever penned, from the details of how one convincingly contrives an apparent accidental death to the minutiae of building a new life, unrecognized, in a far place. The book is more than just a compelling read, it also has poignant and moving things to say about lost opportunities and wasted lives in America, the cynical quality of sudden fame, the awfulness of willed separation from deeply loved children.


The Butter Did It
by Phyllis Richman

Washington D.C.'s preeminent food writer Phyllis Richman whips up her first crime novel...a whodunit that combines equal parts murder, mayhem and master cookery. Drawing on her intimate knowledge of both the restaurant and newspaper worlds, Richman offers an insider's glimpse into the naughty underside of haute cuisine. With recipes and cooking hints throughout, this book is a treat for food-loving mystery fans and mystery-loving foodies alike.

The Chronicles of Sin, Gluttony, Ample Tales of Epicurean Excess
by M.F.K. Fisher, John Kennedy Toole, Woody Allen, Fran Lebowitz, Russell Baker and others

In this series of "sin" books, gluttony is explored with wit, humor, great seriousness and much ham on wry by a number of our best essayists past and present. Woodcuts accent the positive charm of these time-honored glimpses into delicious excess. A must have for lovers of food essays, and an enjoyable read for those new to the paean to foodstuffs.

Why Americans Love, Hate and Fear Food

by Michelle Stacey

Fascinating perspective on our nation's intensely paradoxical relationship to nourishment. Stacey traces the history, industry and science of food focusing on diets and earnest health trends and disturbing aspects such as eating disorders and techno-foods. She also quotes chefs and restauranteurs as she urges us to move closer to delight and pleasure in feeding ourselves. (no recipes)

The Debt to Pleasure
by John Lancaster

The narrating character Tarquin Winot reminisces about a British childhood spent primarily in France and about food. Voluptuous and quirky, he gradually reveals more about his nature than perhaps he'd like. No recipes but evocative and beautifully written descriptions of various dishes and how they were prepared.


A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love

by Bob Shacochis

Delicious, simple recipes woven into a masculine story involving hot sauce, cars and the Blues.

A Feast of Words for Lovers of Food and Fiction
by Anna Shapiro

Literature is nourishment, Ms. Shapiro contends. We couldn't agree more as we feasted on lovely quotes from such authors as Colette, Jane Austen and David Copperfield, among many others. The recipes are each quietly satisfying, not unlike her selections from the authors' great books. A perfect gift for essay lovers among your foodie friends.

Home Cooking
by Laurie Cowlin

The late author, novelist Laurie Colwin, was perhaps the most direct literary descendant of M.F.K Fisher. Colwin's autobiographical musings from a culinary perspective are followed by recipes that act as summaries of each chapter. The food is comfortable and not overly esoteric, much like the first lovely meals she prepared in a tiny studio kitchen. A frequent contributor to Gourmet, Colwin was very much the sensitive urban woman. Home Cooking, and a subsequent collection entitled More Home Cooking, include chapters such as "How to Disguise Vegetables" and "Repulsive Dinners -- A Memoir." In a uniquely intimate voice, she confides in the reader on topics such as a reliable chicken recipe for dinner parties, the ecstasy of nursery foods (such as beef tea and hot cocoa) and the delights of gingerbread.

How I Gave My Heart to the Restaurant Business
by Karen Hubert Allison

Author Allison, with her husband Len Allison, owned the three-star restaurant Huberts in New York City. Allison's novel is a delicious romp through the highly competitive world of the New York food and restaurant business, charting Kitterina Kittridge's struggles. Kitchie (to her friends) yearns for a small, charming restaurant in the country but ends up the co-owner with boyfriend Gunnar of a highly competitive New York restaurant. Enjoy the trials and tribulations of Kitchie's life!

Just Desserts, The Unauthorized Biography of Martha Stewart
by Jerry Oppenheimer

This frenzy of mudslinging was thoroughly researched by Oppenheimer, who conducted 400 candid interviews with family members, confidantes, colleagues, and present and former friends and associates. Oppenheimer tells the REAL story of this doyenne of domesticity's personal life and her phenomenal rise to the top. Stewart's life seemed too perfect for Oppenheimer and he shatters the myth of the Perfect Martha once and for all.

Ladyfingers and Nun's Tummies:
A Lighthearted Look At How Foods Got Their Names

by Martha Barnette

Martha Barnette dishes up answers to all of our questions about the words we put into out mouths every day. In amusing detail, she uncovers the engaging stories behind the names of food, and how these names reflect our intimate, affectionate relationship with food and drink. She discusses, foods named for what they look like (head of cabbage); food names associated with religion and the supernatural (angel hair pasta); foods named for people and places (lobster newburg, a coney dog); foods named for what they do (like pesto, which literally means "pounded"). In addition to delving into food name derivations, Barnette reveals how other familiar English words in turn arose from words involving food and drink ("galaxy" came from the ancient Greek word Galakitos, or "milky," as in the Milky Way). Every food, it seems, has a story to tell. Witty, bawdy, and often surprising, Ladyfingers and Nun's Tummies sustains us and serves as a smorgasbord of history, culture, and language.

Much Depends on Dinner
by Margaret Visser

Margaret Visser, a Toronto professor and food historian, shares with us "the extraordinary history and mythology, allure and obsessions, perils and taboos of an ordinary meal." Visser deconstructs an average meal (chicken, corn on the cob with salt and butter, rice, lettuce with a dressing of lemon and olive oil, and ice cream for dessert) and discusses the facts of each element's current production, its folklore, even the chemistry involved. "Ice Cream -- Cold Comfort" begins with the history, of ice: how it was cut, transported, and exported. The chapter goes on to explain how salt helps freezing in an ice cream maker as well as how the term "hokey pokey" entered English (from "Gelati, ecco un poco!" which was shouted by Italian street vendors in England). Along the way, Visser gives us the low-down on Reuben Mattus and his stroke of marketing genius, Ha”gen-Dazs, and presents convincing evidence of the sexualization of ice cream. On a more serious note, the chapter on chicken, "From Jungle Fowl to Patties," could certainly stop you from eating eggs and poultry altogether.

Outlaw Cook
by John Thorne with Matt Lewis Thorne

In a chapter entitled "On Not Being a Good Cook," John Thorne protests that he is not a gourmet; he even admits that he does not make stock from scratch. He is, nevertheless, obsessed with food: going to great lengths, for example, to install and learn to bake in an outdoor wood-burning bread oven. The best parts of this collection of essays, kitchen notes, recipes, and valuable mail order sources (he lives in Maine and must, therefore, often depend on mail order houses for unusual ingredients himself) are when Thorne tells us about the development of his cooking as it paralleled his emotional growth. This sequel to Simple Cooking, his first collection, was prepared with his wife and is more substantial: filled with great stories. One has to wonder about who ate all the versions the Thornes tried before they came up with the "Perfect Pecan Pie." The pie made with Lyle's Golden Syrup, a British product that Thorne discovered while searching for a sweetener that predated corn syrup.

The Primal Cheeseburger
by Elisabeth Rozin

In a colloquial and amusing tone, food historian Elisabeth Rozin takes an approach similar to Visser's towards the much-maligned meal of cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and ketchup served with french fries, pickles and a soda. She argues that this is the quintessential American meal, "a meal of plenty from this land of plenty, with something for everyone and no one excluded from the feast." She draws interesting parallels, such as the popularity of carbonated drinks with their "tingly little pinpricks" on the tongue and the effects of chilis. She traces the history of ketchup (or catsup) and declares it "the epitome of 'cheap' flavor," which the world loves in some form in all its various cuisines. She maintains that the combination of protein topped with protein (the cheese on the burger) is a particularly American statement of over abundance.

The Tummy Trilogy
by Calvin Trillin

Three of Trillin's collections of essays (no recipes) brought together and introduced by a new forward. This delightful anti-hero of food writes of his pilgrimages from Arthur Bryant's barbecue in Kansas City to Russ and Daughters smoked fish in Lower Manhattan. Especially useful are his instructions on how to avoid continental dining establishments (La Maison de Casa House) and find real food wherever you are.


Unwritten Laws:
The Unofficial Rules of Life

by Hugh Rawson

This is a wonderfully entertaining treasury of more than five hundred rules, strategies, and ironical insights, with many amendments and corollaries, all associated with particular individuals. Organized alphabetically, from Lady Astor ("All women marry beneath them") to Zeno ("The goal of life is living in agreement with nature"), from Woody Allen ("Eighty percent of success is showing up") to Oscar Wilde ("There are two tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it"). Unwritten Laws contains a generous sampling of the collective wisdom of humankind. The book not only gives sources and dates for each law, but annotates them with details about the great lawgivers and their contributions. Delightful for browsing, this book contains extensive cross-references and key-word indexes.

The Welcome Table
by Jessica B. Harris

A fine writer, a tireless researcher, and her subject matter is always part archaeological, part historical and all from the heart. In her newest book, The Welcome Table, she explores the cuisine and hertiage of African-Americans, from the days of slavery up to today's festivals and church suppers. This is some of the most satisfying ever. As a cook, Ms. Harris follows in the footsteps of Leah Chase and Edna Lewis. As an historian, she sets her own high standards. Anyone interested in the history of our country, culinary or otherwise, will love this book.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

Share this article with a friend:

Free eNewsletter SignUp

Sally's Place on Facebook    Sally Bernstein on Instagram    Sally Bernstein at Linked In

Global Resources

Handmade Chocolates, Lillie Belle Farms

Food411 Food Directory