Share Plate Top Five: Foodie Books Share Plate Top Five: Foodie Books

Share Plate Top Five: Foodie Books

By Share Plate

Share Plate Top Five: Foodie Books Share Plate Top Five: Foodie Books

Now that you've worked your way through all those foodie tv shows, let's settle further into the couch. The team has put together our Top Five Foodie Books, perfect for relaxing next to a glass of wine:

 

#5: Alice, Let's Eat, by Calvin Trillin (1978)

A book as much about love and marriage as it is about food, "Alice, let's eat" is a hilarious account of Trillin's family road trip to find something 'halfway decent to eat', with wife Alice and daughter Sarah accompanying. Firmly planted on the side of excess, Trillin is balanced out by his wife, who would prefer he stopped once in a while to savour the food, and at times suggests he might be better to limit himself to a mere three meals a day.

As they journey across America and sample various regional dishes, it's a refreshing insight into food on a different level. No fine dining, no Instagram designed dishes, no secret hotspots: just regional neighbourhood eateries, a lot of good eatin', and a healthy dose of hilariously laidback charm. 

Where to buy it:
  • Available to purchase through Amazon
What wine to drink while reading:
  • To be honest, we aren't fans of American wine - but this is a book full of hearty stories, so a hearty wine will go well: we recommend pouring a glass or three of Nero D'Avola, like this Halcyon Days by Unico Zelo

 

#4: Cork Dork, by Bianca Bosker (2017)

 

The first of two great examples of immersive journalism in this list, Bianca Bosker's Cork Dork is a window into the weird world of sommeliers; the bridge between your restaurant dish and the wine accompanying the meal.

The former tech writer was given an opportunity to write about a local restaurant, which then became an 18-month journey from cellar rat to French chateaux's, learning the ins-and-outs of what it takes to become the world's best in wine analysis. For anyone with even a fleeting interest in the taste of wine, Cork Dork is a hell of an eye-opener. 

As readers, we are taken along on this journey through every step - the tastings, the attitudes, the (many, many) opinions, and the inner workings of both restaurants and the global wine industry. 

That industry can seem off-putting and snobbish, so to have it broken down and explained without pretension as we join Bosker across continents means anyone can feel empowered by the end of a chapter. 

Maybe the best part of Cork Dork is that while we see and learn intimate details of the world's best sommeliers and their habits, Bosker's opinion is still steeped in appreciation for wine on an individual objective level - to enjoy a glass of wine, you simply need a glass of wine. There doesn't have to be more to it. 

Where to buy it:
What wine to drink while reading:

 

#3: The Cooking Gene, by Michael W. Twitty (2017)

 

Now more than ever, as the BLM protests continue worldwide, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC voices will be not only heard but listened to. In the Cooking Gene, Michael Twitty puts forward another perspective around race and food through his cultural lens, focused on Southern US cuisine. The difference here, apart from being an authentic voice instead of an appropriated voice, is that this perspective is traced back through ancestry through freedom, slavery, the United States and Africa. 

Soul food and barbecue are cornerstones of Southern cooking with roots in the kitchens of plantations. The stories of recipes are those of oppression and survival. Twitty's story is told through the foods that kept his lineage alive for centuries throughout horrific circumstances. 

A genealogical blueprint of sorts, Twitty writes with compassion as he documents his culinary ancestry. As a way of moving forward, it's a compelling argument where embracing the uncomfortable truths of the past can be a definitive way to make things better for what comes in the future. Food has the power to bring people together. Maybe it can also be a source of healing along the way. 

Where to buy it:
What wine to drink while reading:

     

    #2: The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (2007)

     

    It was hard to come up with a description of the Vegetarian that didn't too much away, and also didn't put people off. It's a fascinating book heavy on cultural commentary, offering a distinct alternative for how we look at our own humanity. 

    Split into three sections, the Vegetarian centres on Yeong-Hye, who after an intensely violent dream, becomes a vegetarian. Her husband narrates the first third and is bewildered by this sudden deviation. He is horrified to watch her throw out their expensive meat and seafood. As the situation goes downhill, Yeong-Hye's vow to remain vegetarian is the one constant amongst the disintegration of interpersonal relationships.

    More themes unfold as the book progresses. Does violence beget violence? Are desire and shame entwined? An examination of the nature of marriage, of the assumption of marital roles, is explored. Expectations and societal norms are put under the microscope.

    The second section is told from the point of view of her brother-in-law, the third by her sister. Each is a further step towards the breakdown of Yeong-Hye's psyche and relationships with the people close to her. 

    Our team recommends reading the Vegetarian, but also to not expect to enjoy the book. Is that strange? Yes. But it's an important novel, equally disturbing and beautiful, that deserves to be read. 

    Where to buy it:
    What wine to drink while reading:

     

    #1: Heat, by Bill Buford (2013)

     

    The other gonzo piece in our list, Bill Buford builds on a chance encounter with celebrity American chef Mario Batali to begin an odyssey through Italian food, resulting in a hilarious and enlightening series of stories. 

    After a friend invites Batali to dinner at Buford's house, the amateur cooking enthusiast gets drawn into Batali's world, where every dinner has an after-after party, every restaurant has the possibility to drown you in wine and every dish has a history to be unfurled. 

    Asking to work in the kitchen of his highly awarded restaurant Babbo led to Buford being dropped in the deep end. Learning to cook for yourself has never had higher stakes. All the way through, we are right beside him, with subtle and not-so-subtle learning curves alongside new techniques and back-of-house restaurant insights.

    Maybe the most interesting part of how Buford unravels his story is the depth of history to go with his adventures, so we learn as he learns - which becomes even more in-depth as he moves to Italy in order to make pasta by hand, and become an apprentice butcher. It's the kind of immersive reading experience that makes you come back to the book over and over again. 

    Where to buy it:
    What wine to drink while reading:
    • A regional Italian seems appropriate, so we'll suggest a great Chianti, such as this Chianti from Babo Wines.