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Books

A selection of food, travel and photography books that I have read and enjoyed. Unless otherwise specified, all books were purchased by me and all opinions are my own. Note, however, that I do receive a very small commission if you purchase items via this site.


Recent Reads


Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard | www.myfoododyssey.comPicnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes
I was captivated by this book from the opening sentence. I love the author’s language style, which is witty and intelligent without being overbearing. The book is a charming tale of the author’s move from city life in Paris to rural Provence. While it is filled with anecdotes of friends and family, it is mostly about food and the extent to which life in France revolves around food. As a food lover, the food descriptions were sheer bliss. The book contains a good number of recipes which I enjoyed reading but am unlikely to use, primarily because the ingredients are inaccessible to me, but also because they use a frustrating mix of US and European measurements. The result is useful to neither party. It would have been better to stick to just one or, ideally, include both. But overall a very enjoyable read. [Buy]


Delicious by Ruth Reichl | www.myfoododyssey.comDelicious: A Novel
I enjoyed this novel by food writer Ruth Reichl, although I did find it a little disjointed and would have difficulty describing what it was about. The story is divided into three books which, while there is some continuity across them, are each quite distinct. I was completely hooked on Book 1 and was a little thrown to find Book 2 moving in a different direction. Book 3 is a clearer continuation of Book 2, but is still quite distinct. I found this approach a little disorientating.

I did enjoy the characters and their development, although some of the surprises weren’t that surprising. In contrast, some of the conclusions that Billie (our protagonist) reaches while following the trail of letters require quite a leap of imagination. All that said, it is an enjoyable read with some genuinely touching moments. The food descriptions (mostly confined to Book 1) are fantastic and typical of Reichl at her finest. The book might have been stronger if the author had kept closer to that clear strength. [Buy]


Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl | www.myfoododyssey.comGarlic & Sapphires
I loved this autobiographical tale by food writer Ruth Reichl. The story begins with Reichl’s move to New York to take up the post of Restaurant Critic at the New York Times. Before she has even started the job she is made aware that her task will be almost impossible, so widespread is her reputation. She devises a plot to thwart restaurant staff and provide “real” reviews for her readers.

The story is engaging from the start and it is fascinating to watch the cast of characters Reichl creates in her bid to complete an honest review. It is also interesting to see how the real Ruth changes with each new character she creates. Funny, honest and with glorious food descriptions throughout, this is a highly enjoyable read. [Buy]



Food History, Science & Journalism


The Story of the Human Body by Daniel Lieberman | www.myfoododyssey.comThe Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health & Disease:
This book describes how the human body evolved in response to the age-old question “What’s for dinner?” The book discusses how, despite living longer than ever before, humans are currently overrun with conditions arising from how our bodies have not kept pace with changes in how we live our lives. It goes on to discuss what we can do to avoid these debilitating conditions. A very interesting read. [Buy]


A Greedy Man in a Hungry World by Jay Rayner | www.myfoododyssey.comA Greedy Man in a Hungry World:
This book by Jay Rayner is one of the most entertaining and interesting books I’ve encountered in quite a while. I got the audio version, read by Rayner himself in his inimitable style. I thought I would quarrel with some of his theories but it all made a remarkable amount of sense. Highly, highly recommended. [Buy]


A History of English Food by Clarrisa Dickson Wright | www.myfoododyssey.comA History of English Food:
It is impossible to describe the history of English food without also describing the history of England itself. Clarissa Wright Dickson does both in her usual no-nonsense but humorous style. Again, I have the audio version which is ready by Clarissa herself. This is a comprehensive look at English food history down through the ages. An interesting and entertaining read. [Buy]



Cook Books


Ballymaloe Cookery Course by Darina Allen | www.myfoododyssey.comBallymaloe Cookery Course:
For me this is the ultimate cooking bible. Written as the reference book for Ballymaloe’s 12 week cookery course this book contains everything, from classics to cherished hand-me-down recipes to modern twists. It covers sauces, butchery and kitchen management as well as a recipe for just about everything. It is by far the heaviest book in my cookery collection. Because it squeezes in so much information there isn’t a picture for every recipe. That said, the descriptions are so concise & clear that you don’t need a picture. The pictures that are included are beautifully shot & really bring the cookery school and the dishes to life. This is a must-have reference for all cooks. [Buy]


Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen | www.myfoododyssey.comForgotten Skills of Cooking:
This amazing book contains a multitude of advice for those who want to live self-sufficiently. It has sections on keeping chickens and making cheese and butter, all of which I have referred to recently. It has an excellent section on foraging and tons and tons of delicious recipes. It is a must-have book for anyone trying to live more self-sufficiently. [Buy]


Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry | www.myfoododyssey.comSalt Sugar Smoke:
This was my go-to book recently while scrambling to preserve all the fruit I found around the garden. It covers. Huge range of jams & jellies as well as smoking …This was my go-to book recently while scrambling to preserve all the fruit I found around the garden. It covers a vast range of jams & jellies as well as hot and cold smoking and curing. A beautiful resource for anyone who wants the fruits of their labour to last beyond the end of the season. [Buy]



Travel Guides


Lonely Planet Spain | www.myfoododyssey.comLonely Planet Spain:
Our journey through Spain became far more interesting once we bought this book – we were literally lost without it. We were already in Spain before I realised my “Europe” book didn’t have enough detail for us to get the most from the trip. As I couldn’t find an English bookshop I bought the Kindle version, which was just brilliant as I could have a copy on my phone for use on the go. [Buy]


Lonely Planet France | www.myfoododyssey.comLonely Planet France:
My Lonely Planet France has been thumbed almost beyond recognition! I’ve had it for years and use it each time we go to France. It covers many food and wine products – cheesemakers, sausage makers, escargot farms, brandies, Champagne, Bordeaux, etc. All my guide books are Lonely Planet as I find them very easy to navigate and full of up-to-date information. [Buy]

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