The best food books, but not cookbooks, of the year

Xmas ornament on book

There are numerous lists this time of the year – best gifts, best cookbooks, best holiday recipes but nothing like the EYB master list – Best Cookbooks of the Year – which we’ll be publishing imminently. In the meantime, we thought we’d tease you a little bit with a short version – a compilation of some of the most interesting non-cookbooks.  And, of course, 2011 cookbooks still make great gifts, so check out our previously published, “Best Cookbooks of 2011” for some more great ideas.

These were compiled from The Village Voice’s  The 18 Best Food Books of 2012,  Leah Douglas’s The Ten Best Non-Cookbook Food Books of 2012,  The Guardian’s Best Food Books of 2012  and Shaumburg Library’s Best Food Books of 2012. Interestingly, there were remarkably few overlaps so this should provide ample food for thought (sorry, we couldn’t resist). 

  • Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin (reissued) – (personal note – this is one of our absolutely most favorite food books ever)
  • Memories of Gascony by Pierre Koffmann & Mitchell Beazley (redesigned)
  • The Art of the Restaurateur by Nicholas Lander
  • The Juice, Vinous Veritas, by Jay McInerney
  • Dearie – The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz
  • Below Stairs – The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir that Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey,” by Margaret Powell
  • Restaurant Man, by Joseph Bastianich
  • The American Way of Eating – Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table  by Tracie McMillan
  • Change Comes to Dinner – How Verical Farmer, Urban Growers, and Other Innovators are Revolutionizing How America Eats,  by Katherine Gustafson
  • French Kids Eat Everything – How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters,  by Karen Le Billon
  • The Good Food Revolution –  Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities, by Will Allen 
  • Greenhorns – 50 Dispatches From the New Farmers’ Movement, edited by Paula Manalo, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, & Zoe Ida Bradbury
  • My Berlin Kitchen – A Love Story with Recipes, by Luisa Weiss, 
  • Uncorked – A Crazy Journey Through the World of Wine, by Marco Pasanella 
  • Why Calories Count, From Science to Politics, by Merion Nestle & Maldon Nesheim
  • Yes, Chef – A Memoir, by Marcus Samuelsson
  • Birdseye – The Adventures of a Curious Man, by Mark Kurlansky
  • Sweet Tooth – The Bittersweet History of Candy, by Kate Hopkins
  • Eat the City, by Robin Shulman
  • The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz
  • The Hungry EarPoems of Food and Drink, edited by Kevin Young

We’d love to hear your comments on these as well as any further suggestions.



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  • Christine  on  December 17, 2012

    I just finished Marcus Samuelsson's memoir Yes, Chef this weekend and it was a really good book. I'm glad to see it's made the list.

  •  on  December 22, 2012

    In my view no-one, but no-one, can match Laurie Colwin. Save perhaps Fred Ferretti! May they enjoy heavenly feasts!

  • susan g  on  December 27, 2012

    Be wary — and weary — of the trends. Good food is coming back! Thank goodness… I too recently read Samuelsson's book and was enthralled. Such a unique life that is doing so much good… all memoirs are unique, and if well written, lead us to understanding and reflection.

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