Best books … chosen by Phoebe Damrosch
Service Included, Phoebe Damrosch’s memoir about waiting tables at the four-star restaurant Per Se, was selected by The New York Times as one of the 100 notable books of 2007.
Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16). Under the guise of “food writing,” Trillin covers family, place, politics, history, and the quirky, hilarious truths about life. I could easily have listed Feeding a Yen here; in fact, I don’t believe that Trillin has written a bad book on any subject.
Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin (Harper Perennial, $8.50). Pick this one up when you get tired of reading wide-eyed writings about molecular gastronomy, worshipful stories on the noble radish, or four-figure restaurant bills. Colwin’s sincere approach to home cooking—and to writing—is truly satisfying.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (Harper Perennial, $15). Call him macho, call him crass, but just try to put this book down. Bourdain, the ultimate bad-boy chef and culinary giant, has done more to romanticize the kitchen than any glossy spread.
Death by Pad Thai edited by Douglas Bauer (Three Rivers, $14). Not only will you find stories by famed food and travel writers here (the Sterns, Peter Mayle) but also prized literary writers on the subject of food (Claire Messud, Richard Russo).
Food and Booze, edited by Michelle Wildgen (Tin House, $17). For once, a book that manages to write about alcohol (and food) without a trace of cloying sentimentality or diatribes on soil variation. Instead, the essays bring suspense, beautiful phrasing, and memorable characterization to the subject.
Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant, edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler (Riverhead, $23). Another collection of great writers, this time talking about the foods that they eat alone—whether that solitude is chosen or not. Nora Ephron eats buttery mashed potatoes in bed; Jaime Attenberg trades cocaine for room service; Jonathan Ames once poisoned himself on three fried eggs.