Your holiday gift guide for the foodie in your life.
Chances are high you have at least one food-obsessed friend or loved one on your holiday shopping list. Speaking as one such person, I want you to know that as much as we love to cook and eat, we also love to read. And while we may be up to date with all the latest kitchen equipment, there’s usually a hole or two on our culinary bookshelves waiting desperately to be filled. As we enter gift-giving season, I’ve created this food-centric holiday gift guide to help you navigate the aisles of your favorite bookstore (or avoid the crowds and do it online, like me) as you seek out the perfect literary companion for the foodie in your life.
Disclosure: This is NOT a paid post. I chose all of these books based solely on my experience and enjoyment of them. That said, the first link in each paragraph, the book title link, is an affiliate link. If you click through, you’ll land on that book’s product page. If you then make a purchase, I receive a commission on that sale. This doesn’t affect the price of the product.
Food Truck Road Trip–A Cookbook by Kim Pham & Philip Shen – I was lucky to win this book by the creators of BehindtheFoodCarts.com in a giveaway at one of my favorite blogs, The Flavor Bender because I’m not sure I would’ve picked it up on my own. The passion and creativity of these food truck owners is palpable and as inspiring as the recipes themselves. This cookbook more than any other has me thinking outside of my culinary comfort zone and directly inspired my popular Pan-Asian Shrimp Tacos recipe. You can watch the book’s trailer here.
100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake – I don’t own this one yet but I spent a good hour pouring over it at Barnes and Noble. It’s a great resource for anyone trying to eat healthier and more consciously but especially if you’re just starting out. As a cookbook, it’s full of simple, clean recipes that I’m excited to make. But it’s real value, in my opinion, is as a reference book. It’s loaded with information about different kinds of flour, grains, sweeteners, etc. The process of “cleaning” out your pantry and changing your mindset can be overwhelming at the start and you’ll need a guiding hand to get you through it. This book is that hand.
Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook from the Thug Kitchen blog – Treat yourself to the official trailer here. This book is full of good, healthy plant-based recipes plus a nice dose of real-talkin’, f-bomb droppin’ cheekiness. There’s a reason this site is so popular. The conversation surrounding what we eat, how much we eat and where our food comes from is important and I don’t want to belittle it….but it can get a little sanctimonious at times. Thug Kitchen is the opposite of that.
Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson – Heidi has been out in front of the whole foods movement with her blog 101 Cookbooks for quite some time. All her recipes are vegetarian but they have universal appeal. As I’m writing this, there’s a kimchi soup recipe up there calling my name and I’m a total carnivore! The excerpts on Heidi’s web site say more about this book than I can because, at this point, I’ve only drooled over her photos for a couple of hours. This woman has a real way with a camera. Is my envy showing? I expect steam will be coming out of my ears when I finally make one of her delicious recipes.
Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton – First, I read Gabrielle’s memoir (listed below) and was smitten. Then I got her cookbook and was super turned on. Then, I ate at Prune and am now full-on, head-over-heels in love with Gabrielle Hamilton and her cooking. I have made the bloody mary mix and the Prune vinaigrette from this cookbook a couple of times and am both happy and envious to say they are the best versions of those two things I’ve ever had. I’m excited to try the pickled shrimp and the pumpkin in ginger beer. And the next time you’re in NYC treat yourself to a meal at Prune.
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz – This book re-ignited my francophilia big time. It walks the perfect line between cookbook and memoir. David is able to do this so well because his expertise in the kitchen is matched pound for pound by his gift for storytelling and engaging his readers. You’ll see what I mean in 2.2 seconds if you visit his blog, DavidLebovitz.com. A word of warning, though. If you subscribe to the comments on his blog your inbox will be flooded with email notifications. His readers love him and definitely want him to know how much. My only regret with his book is that I read it on my Nook. I love my Nook but you don’t get the effect of the images at all. And he takes stunning ones. You’ll see that if you visit his blog, too. Can you tell I really want you to visit his blog 😉
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Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All by Brad Thomas Parsons – I was eyeing this book at Barnes and Noble, too, and feeling myself getting sucked further and further into the Brooklyn obsession du jour ~ making your own bitters. I know. I know. I’m not twenty-two. I don’t wear plaid. And I don’t have copious amounts of facial hair. But making my own bitters might just be my ticket into hipster-dom. And even if it’s not. Even if that door is closed to me forever *cue internal weeping* I could very well be opening the door to the best homemade cocktail ever. Which sounds so good to me right now even though it’s not even noon.
A Bone to Pick by Mark Bittman – This is a call to arms if ever I read one. What we eat, how much and where it comes from is not just personal. It’s politcial. You can read my full review here. Suffice to say, I’m a huge fan.
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michal Pollan – I’m about 1/4 of the way through this book at the time of this writing. Mark Bittman references Michael Pollan quite a bit in his writing so I wanted to check him out and I think he’s great. His writing is thoughtful, keenly observant and engaging. He presents cooking at home as a form of political activism. In doing so we take back control over our health, our economy and our planet. Cooking has certainly been an empowering experience for me and a large part of the reason I started this blog so this book is really resonating with me. You can read a more in depth synopsis on Michael’s web site here.
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain – I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Anthony Bourdain writes in a brash, in-your-face style that somehow made me want to hear more instead of tuning him out. He’s cocky, but just self-deprecating enough to keep you on his side. This is a risky game to play as a writer. And he plays it expertly. He strikes me as no stranger to risk. And not just in his writing. He’s lived hard and learned hard. I read a lot of this book with my mouth agape from delightful shock at the behavior that’s not only tolerated but expected in the bizarre universe he inhabits.
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton – I shed a lot of tears reading this book. Gabrielle Hamilton is a very natural, reflective and honest storyteller. There were a lot of times in her early life when she was completely on her own. Any support she got, she had to go out and find. As a parent, it was staggering to hear her talk so matter-of-factly about it. And I was utterly taken by and deeply affected by the ways in which her road to becoming a chef and restaurant owner paralleled her road to finding/creating a family.
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl – I’ve only just started reading this and what stands out the most to me is Ruth’s considerable wit. I’m loving being introduced, one by one, to the women who shaped the future food writer extraordinaire and Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine’s relationship with food. Ironically enough, the women closest to Ruth when she was young either didn’t cook well or at all. Perhaps that’s what made her perk up and pay attention when something well-prepared finally graced her plate. I can’t wait to find out.
Especially for Food Bloggers
Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob – Chances are the only food blogger in your life who doesn’t already own this book is one who is just starting out. But there are plenty of people who fit that description so I’ve included it here. Will Write for Food is ordinarily one of the fist purchases we make, right after buying our domain name. That’s because it’s indispensable. Dianne covers everything, from different ways to say “tasty” to how to write recipes so your readers can follow them to how to do restaurant reviews or book reviews to how to get an agent for that cookbook deal. It ain’t called the “complete guide…” for nothing.
Best Food Writing 2015 edited by Holly Hughes – This book is a great resource for any food blogger to get a taste (pun intended) of different styles of well-crafted food writing. As a writer it is so important to read. And you can get caught in a loop of reading the same blogs and magazines all the time. We tend to enjoy the writing that’s the most like ours. Which is fine. But it’s also good to break out of that and see what else is out there. This book is a great and easy way to broaden your food-writing horizons.
The Food Photography Book by Nagi Maehashi Click here to view more details – Photography is a huge part of what makes a food blog successful. I’m still very much a student in this arena which is why I appreciate Nagi’s book so much. I’ve read a lot on this subject but this book has had the biggest impact on my photography because her tips are SO PRACTICAL. I really speak, understand and appreciate practical. This book FINALLY convinced this cheapskate food blogger (me) to buy a new freaking lens already. It just arrived this week! The first post I used it for was a re-shoot of my bacon wrapped tropical nuts recipe. I submitted the original photos to Foodgawker back in May. It was rejected. The re-shoot with my new lens? Landed on page 3 yesterday. I call that progress. For a taste of where I’m aiming with my photography skillz visit Nagi’s blog, RecipeTin Eats.
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