The Best Culinary Reads of 2013

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Provence 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr
What happens when culinary icons James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones find themselves thrown together in one place in a singular moment.

50 Foods:  The Essentials of Good Taste by Edward Behr
An actual food authority who has spent his life tasting, thinking and writing about food in The Art of Eating shares what we should know about 50 iconic foods.  In ten minutes of reading I already learned something.

Cooking from the Heart by John Besh
The very popular New Orleans chef/restauranteur tells his personal culinary story by sharing time spent with his mentors from New Orleans, to the Black Forest to Provence.  The highly photographed nature of the journeys reminds me of the old Time-Life cookbooks and that the best food lessons often are linked to travel and surrender to a place, its rhythms and particular discipline.  Readable and cookable.

Daniel, My French Cuisine by Daniel Boulud but buy it also for the unique essays on The Iconic Sessions by Bill Buford
The great essayist Bill Buford once again brings us into magical yet real moments of cooking with a culinary master.  This time he’s cooking with Daniel and his chefs to recreate iconic French masterpieces of the past. It’s simultaneously past, present, history, future, linguistics, culture, hilarity and failure.  My favorite strictly culinary read of the year. 

LA Son:  My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi
What can I say?  I love him and I love this book.  Readable and real.

Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years that Changed our Culinary Consciousness by Joyce Goldstein
The history of that culinary wave called “California Cuisine” and the “why” of it’s lasting importance.  A book that gives perspective on what is happening now.

A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope and a Restaurant in Rwanda by Josh Ruxin
A remarkable couple commit to a country struggling forward from horror.  Their NGO work leads them to open “Heaven”, a restaurant in Kigali as a tool to create economic development.

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
The plants behind that drink you love.  Amy’s a genius at what she does.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen
Perhaps the most fascinating and complex of any culinary memoir I’ve read.  It’s an exploration of the political and culinary history of the Soviet Union seen through the eyes of a gifted food writer and her mother who both lived it.

One Souffle at a Time by Anne Willan
Founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris then Burgundy, Anne share stories of coming into her own mentored by the likes of Julia Child, Simone Beck James Beard and Craig Claiborne. It’s a absorbing look at a woman carving out a career during a time when finding a husband was on most women’s minds.