10 food books that will get your mind and tummy rumbling

8 months ago
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Don’t you love it when you get to devour a good book? Most especially when the subject is food! Here are ten food novels to sink your teeth into. We promise, you’re going to savor and enjoy every delicious page.



The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard Morais

A heartwarming story that was adapted into a film starring Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren, The Hundred Foot Journey is the story of Hassan, who moves to France from India with his family. There, they open an Indian restaurant across the street from a French restaurant owned by a Michelin-starred chef. The story is by turns funny and moving, and the book is worth reading for its evocative and lush descriptions of food.








Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Kitchen is an offbeat tale of Mikage, a young Japanese woman, struggling to come to terms with the death of her grandmother. She befriends Yuichi, an employee at her grandmother’s favorite flower shop, and comes to live with him and Eriko, his transgender mother. Mikage’s fascination with kitchens is charming (she proclaims that “[t]he place I like best in this world is the kitchen. No matter where it is, no matter what kind, if it’s a place where they make food, it’s fine with me”) and the story is just as much about food and the transformative and healing power of love.






71aj5-ZWfNLChocolat by Joanne Harris

Set in a sleepy fictional village in France, Chocolat is the story of Vianne Rocher, a young single mother, who settles into the village and opens a chocolate shop with her daughter. The villagers can’t get enough of Vianne’s chocolate, much to the dismay of the parish priest, who preaches the values of sacrifice and self-denial. The novel builds up into an unforgettable showdown between Vianne and the priest.







Banana Heart Summer by Merlinda Bobis

A coming of age novel set in a poor barrio in the Philippines, the novel is about twelve year old Nenita and an unforgettable cast of characters who live in Remedios Street. More than a beautiful tale of family, friendship, love, and loss, the book shines with lush descriptions of Filipino food. Warning: do not read this book on an empty stomach.







ows_139898376043329Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

One wonders how much of this novel is derived from real life. Ruth Reichl, the former editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, has written a slew of bestselling food memoirs, but Delicious is her first novel. The book is the story of Billie Breslin, who leaves her home in California for bustling New York City to take a job at the eponymous Delicious magazine, the most iconic food magazine in the world. When the magazine shuts down, she stays behind to man the magazine’s hotline—until one day, she discovers a box of letters written by a twelve year old girl named Lulu Swan to culinary giant James Beard.





506153d80c424.imageLike Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

No word best describes this novel than “magical.” The heroine Tita’s cooking has the ability to overwhelm those who taste it with intense emotions—from mad lust to grief. Through cooking, Tita expresses the despair she feels: she cannot marry Pedro, her lover, because as the family’s youngest daughter, she must take care of her mother until the day she dies. Worse, Pedro marries Tita’s sister instead. A story of forbidden love and passion in all its forms, one can’t help but root for Tita to get the happy ending she deserves.





The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola

Both cutting political satire and an excellent glimpse of 19th century Paris, The Belly of Paris is a curious mix of food and politics. The hero of the story is Florent Quenu, a political exile who escapes prison to return to his native Paris to live with his brother, a butcher at the marketplace. Alternately titled “The Fat and Thin,” the novel displays the stark differences between the haves and the have-nots. What makes this a must-read for foodies is Zola’s incredibly detailed, almost obsessive description of the marketplace and all the food in it.





Bone in the Throat by Anthony Bourdain

Fans of Bourdain’s madcap humor and gonzo food journalism will enjoy this book. When young chef Tommy Pagana accepts a job at his uncle’s restaurant in Manhattan’s Little Italy, he has no idea that the restaurant is run by the Mafia and that the menu includes murder. Alongside descriptions of murder and beatings are long and detailed descriptions of food (a scene where Tommy preps the kitchen for service spans several pages). Dark, gritty, and funny the novel may be, but Bourdain’s descriptions of food and the life of those in the restaurant industry (minus the guns and the goons) are strikingly realistic.




My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki

This is a story of two women leading both very different and similar lives. Headstrong Jane Tagaki-Little is hired by a production company to host and produce the show “My American Wife,” a cooking show that promotes the use of American beef in Japan. Timid Akiko Ueno is married to Jane’s boss, Joicho Ueno. An overbearing husband, Joicho forces Akiko to watch My American Wife and cook the recipes featured in the hopes that it will help her conceive. More than an expose on the meat industry (think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for the 21st century), the novel explores cultural identity, feminism, and love.





The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein discovers that she possesses a magical gift: she can taste the emotions of other people through their cooking. She develops her gift through time; with just a taste, she can tell where the ingredients of each dish came from, and how the animals were treated prior to being killed and cooked. Yet her gift at times seems more like a curse. By tasting her mother’s lemon cake, she discovers that beneath her mom’s cheerful and loving demeanor lies a sad and broken woman. While the novel offers no clear resolution, its beautiful, haunting prose makes it a must-read.





Words by Janelle Año