A SIDE ORDER OF DISH is my favorite single ingredient in any cookbook. I mean I love it when people cook and tell. And therefore, I love memoir cookbooks. Don’t you?
That being the case, these days are glorious ones for reading cooks like I am, since there are some truly great cookbook/memoir, memoir/cookbooks on the bookstore shelves. Yes, of course, I grab a menu or two each week online, but few things make me happier than reading a cookbook and getting the backstory on the recipe. Maybe it’s an heirloom recipe passed along by a mother or mother-in-law; perhaps it is something made in this generation for the kids. Either way, I eat it up.
Meet Alana Chernila
Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making was introduced to me a few months ago when I shared a panel on memoir with the author Alana Chernila. Funny, smart and a whopping great cook, she has produced a book that is worthy of reading both in bed as well as in the kitchen.
In this lovely softcover edition, Chernila reveals her best thoughts on how and what to make instead of purchase, along with her hopes and fears, thoughts on being a newlywed, a peek into her first restaurant job and the joys of being a mom. If you’d like to meet her, you can on March 1st as part of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. She, along with five other writers, are bringing back what last year was a standing-room-only reading entitled “Out of the Mouths of Babes.” And to add to the temptation, the event promises that “favorite bedtime snacks will be served.” Sweet.
Meet Smitten Kitchen and Deb Perelman
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman was a Christmas gift that I have barely let out of my hands since I received it. Written by a fine storyteller and an utterly fearless chef, this book is pure joy. Deb Perelman, who also the creator of the award-winning blog, Smitten Kitchen, is a woman who can imagine things together that have wanted to be eaten together since they first grew on this earth. And she cooks and tells, providing mushroom stories, and marriage stories, gnocchi tales and Hanukkah cookie stories, all ladled between recipes that have had me cooking and reading my way through it.
The only problem is, I got stuck on one item. It’s the one item she lists in the book that with the warning that you need to beware not to eat it all before the guests arrive. I keep making it. And eating it, and though I won’t tell you what it is, I will say it involves a great deal of brown butter. Yum.
Love books? Want to send someone a special treat? Say it with words. Send a cook-and-tell book to a friend. It’s in such good taste.