By Richard C.
A quiet meal with no distractions can be wonderful, but sometimes I love a fork in one hand and my book in another. I recently devoured three great reads, two of them on the
social history of my favorite international cuisine, and one work of fiction that reminded me how food is a bond that connects us all.
A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States
By Andrew Coe
Egg rolls, chow mein, sweet and sour pork, stir fried green vegetables – listing all my favorite Chinese food is impossible. I love it all, but what’s the story behind Chinese food in the USA? Author Andrew Coe relates the impact of history, culture and immigration on that story, fr
om a lone ship in 1784, the American Gold Rush of the 1840s, Nixon’s 1972 visit, to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. My favorite thing about this book was the insight into how immigration from China to the United States has had an ongoing impact on the quality, style, location and flavor of my favorite dishes.
How Mexican Food Conquered America
By Gustavo Arellano
Chili, tamales, tacos, enchiladas, tequila, and so much more! Mexican food is big in the United States, but what exactly is authentic Mexican food and does it even have to be? Author Gustava Arellano’s book explores these questions as well as the history and culture of this tantalizing cuisine. My favorite stories were about how salsa once became a top selling condiment, and about the apparently FIVE greatest Mexican meals in the USA. Arellano’s short dedication on food industry workers is worth reading for sure.
THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE
by Aimee Bender
A wonderful novel about food, family secrets, and the eccentricity of everyday life. Nine year old Rose Edelstein takes a bite of her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake. Suddenly she can perceive her mother’s emotions, but is stunned at how wrong she has been about her mother’s feelings. Rose’s ability lasts many years. She tastes rage in a baker’s cookie and cannot even bring herself to eat her brother’s toast. My favorite thing about this book is remembering how people we know and love are more complex that we could ever dream. Aimee Bender reminds us that food is a bond that connects us all.
Well that’s merely three books and there has to be more! So please tell us your favorite food books or books and food you associate together!