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The Best Food Books to Read or Give as Gifts

Updated on July 13, 2016
From the pages of Julia Rothman's Farm Anatomy
From the pages of Julia Rothman's Farm Anatomy

10 Best Food Books to Read or Give as Gifts

If you know someone who loves book, then you should look at the following selections of food books that come with recipes as well as healthy dosage of wit and humor, photographs, poems, drawings and even sex.

These 10 top-rated old and new titles will hopefully satisfy and cover a good range of culinary and health interests.

These are books every food lover should read. You may want to buy them as Birthday, Valentine, Anniversary or Christmas gifts or even keep them for yourself.

Isabel Allende author of  "Aphrodite : A Memoir of the Senses" at Book Signing
Isabel Allende author of "Aphrodite : A Memoir of the Senses" at Book Signing | Source

Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by Isabel Allende on Amazon

1. Delights of Food and Sex in 'Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses' by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende's Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses is a celebration in the joy of food and sex.

This is a very sensual read with a combination of great recipes, tips on love making, how to attract your partner, poems, stories from foreign literatures and even paintings.

If you suffer from flagging virility, then there is a section on how to revive it. Does smell has any effect on libido? You will find this answer in her book. There are some great recipes as well including good aphrodisiac recipes.

It is a fresh story telling with added spices of humor and insight.

Isabel Allende was born in Peru but raised in Chile and is the author of several novels including children's novels. She currently lives in California. Most of her books are international bestsellers and translated into several languages.

After the death of her daughter, she started the Isabel Allende Foundation in late 1996 to pay homage to her daughter. Paula Frias spend most of her twenty-eight years doing charity and volunteer works helping the poor in Venezuela and Spain. Her mother started this foundation to continue her work and funded mostly from sales of Isabel Allende's books.

For more information, you may visit the Isabel Allende Foundation website. If you want to support her cause and wish to make a donation, you can do so online through the foundation website.

Nigel Slater, author of 'Toast' and 'Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard"
Nigel Slater, author of 'Toast' and 'Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard" | Source

Movie Trailer for 'Toast'

2. Extraordinary Story of Childhood Remembered through Food in 'Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger' by Nigel Slater

In Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger, Nigel Slater will take you to his kitchen with talk of bourbon biscuits and minced pies.

It is an amazing story of his unhappy childhood reminisced through food, and at the same time, brilliantly recreating the daily life in suburban England in the sixties.

At the tender age of nine, Nigel was deprived of affection after his mother died of asthma. He could not relate to his occasionally violent father and this was make worst when his father finally married the cleaner woman who was hired to tidy up the house but ended up seducing his father with her cooking instead.

Nigel Slater is an English food writer, journalist and author who became known to a much wider audience after his book Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger was published.

This book was winner of the British Book Award for Best Biography and adapted into a tele-movie starring Helena Bonham Carter as his stepmother. His stepsisters however, accused him of creating lies about their mother and claimed that what were written in the book about their mother, were all untrue.

From the pages of 'Notes From A Kitchen'
From the pages of 'Notes From A Kitchen'

3. Journey Inside Culinary Obsession in 'Notes From A Kitchen' by Jeff Scott & Others

Notes From A Kitchen by Jeff Scott, Blake Beshore, Sean Brock and Michael Laiskonis, is not a cookbook with recipes but a brilliant and vibrant book with beautiful photographs, cooking notes, documentary film footage and original artworks that explained what happen before a meal is served to you in a restaurant.

This 2-volume 900+ page coffee table book is best read in a quiet corner with your favorite desert and drink. See the video below; to appreciate the beautifully crafted book that explores the work of several world-renowned young chefs.

It will take you to these chefs' kitchens and into their daily creative life. Among the many celebrity chefs featured are Sean Brock, George Mendes, Johnny Luzzini and Jason Neroni.

Notes From a Kitchen Video

If You Eat Alone Often, then You Must Read 'Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant'

4. Amusing Collection of Pieces by Writers in 'Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant' edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

If you have always wondered what to cook when you are alone, then Jenni Ferrari-Adler's 'Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant' will help you with this burning question.

She invited 26 foodies, writers and others, which include my favorite writer Nora Ephron, to relate the experiences and stories of cooking for one and dining alone. They shared the secrets of their indulgences in food including their comfort foods. Written with wit and humor, it is a delightful read.

If you have to eat alone, then after reading this book, you will be more prepared.

5. Scandalous World of Olive Oil in 'Extra Virginity' by Tom Mueller

Tom Mueller's 'Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil' looks into the fraud world of olive oil.

Do not be fooled by the tag line and photographs of beautiful Italian countryside on their label. The cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil may not be that extra virgin after all. It may be the adulterated olive oil mixed with low-grade vegetable oil. Worst, it could also have artificial coloring. Hence, it is no longer 100% pure and healthy. To quote a critic, "it has lost its virginity'

Technically, bottled olive oils labeled as "extra-virgin olive oil" must be made from crushed olives without using any chemicals or heat during the refining process. It has to taste and smell almost close to the real fresh olives. It is claimed that almost 50% of the olive oils that are sold in America, are adulterated.

This book will let you in, into the shady world of olive oil. It teaches you on how to pick the real stuff from the phony stuff.

From Donna Hay's 'Off the Shelf'
From Donna Hay's 'Off the Shelf'

Looking for Simple and Quick Recipes? Get them here

6. Create Simple, Stylish and Delicious Meals in 'Off The Shelf: Cooking From the Pantry' by Donna Hay

Australia's bestselling food writer Donna Hay writes and share simple and easy recipes in 'Off The Shelf: Cooking From the Pantry'.

This book gave great tips and solved that "there is nothing to serve for dinner" dilemma. There are 190 recipes with each section offering tips on the cooking methods and on its ingredients. It has basic food recipes as well as splendid dinner course recipes, yet simple to do. All these are accompanied with beautiful photographs, which are great visual help.

It will give you the inspiration to come up with a great and delicious meal at short notice.

Award-winning chef Grant Achatz developed skin cancer on tongue and chooses chemotherapy radiation instead of surgery
Award-winning chef Grant Achatz developed skin cancer on tongue and chooses chemotherapy radiation instead of surgery | Source

7. Facing Death in 'Life, On The Line' by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas

Grant Achatz, one of America's celebrity chefs, shared his story of how he overcame tongue cancer, in 'A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat'.

Despite the illness that deprived him of his ability to taste, he continued to stay on, as chef of one of America's best restaurants.

Earlier in 2002, Food & Wine named him as one of the best new chefs in America. In 2003, he was awarded the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year Award. In 2005, he and a partner opened the award-winning restaurant, Alinea. In 2007, he was diagnosed with Stage-4 tongue cancer.

The recommended treatment was to remove the cancerous cells and this will mean the removal of his entire tongue. Determined to overcome this, he went for alternative treatment at the University of Chicago, which saved his life but took away his sense of taste.

Despite this loss, his intensity and cooking pushes him to cook using his other senses; sight, touch and smell.

Read this amazing story of his battle with tongue cancer as well as his memoir as a chef in a fiercely tough restaurant industry.

From Nigel Slater's 'Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard'
From Nigel Slater's 'Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard'

Recipes Using Fruits for Sweet Dishes and Savory Dishes

8. Using Fruits from the Garden in 'Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard' by Nigel Slater

Latest book by Nigel Slater, 'Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard' is the companion to "Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch." In UK, 'Ripe' was published as "Tender: Volume 2"

There are 24 chapters with each chapter devoting to a fruit from the author's garden. They are apricots, blueberries, apples, cherries, grapes, elderberries, gooseberries, figs etc.

The beautifully photographed chapters offer recipes for each of these fruits, tips on flavor pairing and the various varieties for each of the fruits and other useful tips.

If you enjoy sweet dishes and savory dishes, then you will enjoy Nigel Slater's latest offering in Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard.

From the pages of Julia Rothman's Farm Anatomy
From the pages of Julia Rothman's Farm Anatomy

Buy the Beautifully Illustrated and Handwritten Book on Farm Anatomy, here

9. A Look at rural Life in 'Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life' by Julia Rothman

Julia Rothman's 'Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life' is an amazing and brilliantly illustrated guide book to the intricate and fascinating rural life.

All the illustrations and the handwritten texts in the book were by Julia Rothman. She was inspired to do this book after her first visit to the farm where her husband grew up.

As you read and be entertained by the illustrations, you will be educated on life in the country, on plants in the garden, animals in the farm and on how to make cheese.

This charming book will appeal to people of all ages.

Seamus Mullen's Hero Food
Seamus Mullen's Hero Food

10. Cooking with Healthy Food in 'Hero Food: How Cooking With Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better' by Seamus Mullen

Seamus Mullen, chef and restaurateur, and a finalist in the 2009's The Next Iron Chef, came out with his book, 'Hero Food: How Cooking With Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better' after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis,

This led him to study various food properties and its nutritional values and causes of rheumatoid arthritis. These extensive studies lead him to eighteen "hero foods" that offer vital and important nutrients for good health.

The book is packed with recipes using these 18 hero foods that offer not just nutritious food but also delicious food. Some of these hero foods include almonds, squash, olive oil, berries, eggs, anchovies, fish and leafy greens, among others,

Each one of these extensive selection of recipes were given a complete write up and beautiful imagery. His Spanish training is evident from the recipes he offered in this book, which is also his first.

Giving Food Books as Gifts

Now that you have bought one of these food books, the tough decision is whether to keep or give it as a gift.

What to Write on the Inside Cover

If you decide to give the book as a gift, is it appropriate for you to write your message, on the inside cover?

Some may agree whilst some may not. I personally find it acceptable and look forward to receive books with personal inscription. It will help me remember who it was from and for what occasion. The message should also be dated and signed. You may want to add the reason why you bought the book in your message.

Then go back to the shop and buy another food book for yourself.

© 2012 Mazlan


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    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Om, the selections are tough to make. If I have only one book to buy, I will probably read 'Life, On The Line' by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

      Thanks for this lovely list of books, greatstuff. They all sound like wonderful Christmas gifts for foodies. I actually consider buying some of these books for myself!

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