I always make sure I have a tall stack of good reading books prepared for January. While other people shop for Gor-tex and down coats, I wander the aisles of my local bookstores looking for the finds that will get me through the dark months.
My reading tastes vary, but my favorites are books that involve food. For those times when I can’t be inhaling the lush smell of a slow-simmering ragu sauce, I can think of no better alternative than to be curled up in a favorite chair, surrounded by interesting characters who love cooking. Everything just feels warmer.
Here’s a list of my favorites, with the hope that they make your winter feel just a bit shorter, too…
Chocolat – Joanne Harris. If you’ve only seen the movie, you are doing yourself and this book an injustice. The story of Vianne Rocher and her chocolate shop is far more rich and complicated than on the screen. Besides, a book that starts with “We came on the wind of the carnival” is surely setting you up for magic.
Garlic and Sapphires – Ruth Reichl. Anything by Ruth Reichl is worth your time, but this is my favorite, the story of her stint as the NYT’s restaurant critic. Underlying a string of vivid and entertaining restaurant stories is the more personal one of a woman who dresses up in disguises in order to get typical service and dishes, but occasionally loses herself in the process.
The Language of Baklava – Diana Abu-Jaber. Food memoirs abound, but this one does a beautiful job of tying together family, heritage and food as Abu-Jaber traces her own dual American and Jordanian heritage.
The Art of Eating – MFK Fisher. The quintessential food writer. Her essays are like a series of small plates, each one exquisite.
A Natural History of the Senses – Diane Ackerman. Not technically a food book, rather a scientific and poetic exploration of touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. With all your senses awake, you’ll see food and our wintery world in a new light.
On January 24th at 7 pm in the cozy lower level of Elliott Bay we’ll be celebrating the publication of my new novel, The Lost Art of Mixing, a sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients. There will be reading, and homemade cookies, and plenty of incredible Seattle7Writers authors mingling about and possibly singing. I hope you’ll come and we can all chase the cold away together.
Erica Bauermeister is the bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients and Joy For Beginners. Her newest novel, The Lost Art of Mixing, is an Indie Next Pick and will be published on January 24th.