Join The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures for our second annual Summer Book Bingo for adults! Follow us throughout the summer for reading suggestions based on each category. Today, suggestions for your “Read a Cookbook or a Food Memoir” square:
A cookbook might seem like an odd choice for summer reading, but nowadays chefs are including more narrative next to recipes and sumptuous photos of mouthwatering food. You’ll find funny restaurant anecdotes, culinary manifestoes, personal histories and more in between the covers of the cookbooks below. Bonus: all are from the Pacific Northwest, so you might consider one of these titles for your local author square if you’ve already got cookbooks covered.
In A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World, Susan Musgrave, poet and proprietor of the Copper Beech House B&B, drolly recounts her (mis)adventures foraging wild foods on these remote islands off the coast of northern British Columbia alongside recipes for Rose Spit Halibut with Wild Rose Petals and Hands-Free Cloudberry Jam.
Blaine Wetzel’s gorgeously illustrated Sea & Smoke: Flavors from the Untamed Pacific Northwest also features Cascadia’s Indigenous ingredients, but these recipes are more haute cuisine than home-cooking. With co-author Joe Ray, Wetzel describes the process of building a world-class restaurant on Lummi Island and demonstrates how to craft exquisite meals from hyperlocal flora and fauna.
Seattle chef Greg Atkinson serves up seasonal, locally sourced dishes like Risotto with Asparagus, Saffron and Morels and Grilled Salmon with Warm Raspberry Butter Sauce next to light-hearted, thoughtful personal essays on food, family and cooking in his recently revised In Season: Culinary Adventures of a Pacific Northwest Chef.
Shiro Kashiba is a Seattle culinary pioneer who helped create its first full-service sushi bar in 1970. His beautifully designed Shiro: Wit, Wisdom & Recipes from a Sushi Pioneer is a memoir/cookbook that traces his journey from Tokyo’s Ginza district to the Puget Sound while providing tips on making sushi rice, preparing nigiri, and other techniques.
Cookbooks not your thing? Try a food memoir instead. Seattle is home to a number of noted food writers who’ve published books in recent years. Perhaps the best known is Molly Wizenberg, creator of the popular food blog Orangette and co-owner of local pizza parlor Delancey. She writes with warmth and humor about food and family relationships in A Homemade Life, and describes the hectic experience of opening a restaurant with her husband in Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage.
Restaurant critic Matthew Amster-Burton recounts his struggles to expand his young daughter’s palate in Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater and details his family’s culinary adventures in Japan in Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo.
If you’re curious about the growing trend of eating wild and foraged foods, let Langdon Cook be your guide. In Fat of the Land: Adventures of 21st-Century Forager, he describes hunting and gathering his food from nearby woods and water, and in The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America, he shines a light on the shadowy subculture of fungi foragers.
— posted by Abby