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The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

Caitlin Kleinschmidt is part of the sales team at Workman Publishing. She has previously held positions at Viking/Riverhead, Simon & Schuster, Oxford University Press, and Macmillan. A Navy brat, she lived on both coasts and credits the Dear America series for her lifelong love of history. She has a special place in her heart for narrative nonfiction, as well as books about Eastern Europe and ballet.

The only thing better than eating food is reading about food. While some revel in gastronomical decadence, others use food and eating to explore the universal themes of identity, exploration, coming-of-age, and belonging. Here are some of our favorite memoirs that every food lover should have on their list.


Delancey
by Molly Wizenberg

Molly Wizenberg, the voice behind the popular, James Beard Award winning food blog, ORANGETTE, recounts how opening a pizza restaurant sparked the first crisis of her young marriage. DELANCEY is a funny, frank, and tender memoir that explores the meaningful moments where food and life intersect.

Delancey
Molly Wizenberg

Molly Wizenberg, the voice behind the popular, James Beard Award winning food blog, ORANGETTE, recounts how opening a pizza restaurant sparked the first crisis of her young marriage. DELANCEY is a funny, frank, and tender memoir that explores the meaningful moments where food and life intersect.

MENTIONED IN:

This Poignant and Delectable Memoir Isn’t Just About Pizza

By Hilary Krutt | September 30, 2015

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

This intimate portrait of life in the war-torn Middle East uses food and the rituals of eating to uncover a vibrancy that most Americans never see. From secret Baghdad book clubs to home cooking with her sardonic Lebanese mother-in-law, American journalist Annia Ciezadlo illuminates how civilians use food to feed the soul as well as the body.

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War
Annia Ciezadlo

This intimate portrait of life in the war-torn Middle East uses food and the rituals of eating to uncover a vibrancy that most Americans never see. From secret Baghdad book clubs to home cooking with her sardonic Lebanese mother-in-law, American journalist Annia Ciezadlo illuminates how civilians use food to feed the soul as well as the body.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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My Life in France
by Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme
From the first Parisian meal that she and her husband savored, Julia Child had an awakening that changed her life. Unfolding with the spirit so key to her success as a chef and a writer, Julia’s memoir of falling in love with French food brilliantly captures one of the most enduring American personalities of the last fifty years.
My Life in France
Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme

From the first perfectly soigné meal that she and her husband savored en route to their new life in Paris, Julia Child had an awakening that changed her life. Soon this tall, outspoken California girl was chatting with purveyors in local markets and enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu. Filled with photographs and laced with the good spirit that made her such an extraordinary success, Julia’s memoir of falling in love with French food makes for the perfect winter escape.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

10 Beachy Reads to Fight the Winter Blues

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 19, 2015

I Want to Be French: 9 Books Full of Joie de Vivre

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 23, 2014

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Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
by Gabrielle Hamilton

Described as “brilliantly written” by THE NEW YORK TIMES and hailed by Anthony Bourdain as “simply the best memoir by a chef ever,” BLOOD, BONES & BUTTER is the crème de la crème. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of the acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, tells her story with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
Gabrielle Hamilton

Described as “brilliantly written” by THE NEW YORK TIMES and hailed by Anthony Bourdain as “simply the best memoir by a chef ever,” BLOOD, BONES & BUTTER is the crème de la crème. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of the acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, tells her story with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
by Ruth Reichl

In this deliciously crafted memoir, esteemed restaurant critic Ruth Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters and unforgettable tales that shaped her world and her tastes. Spiced with infectious humor and sprinkled with her favorite recipes, it is a witty and compelling coming-of-age story.

Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
Ruth Reichl

In this deliciously crafted memoir, esteemed restaurant critic Ruth Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters and unforgettable tales that shaped her world and her tastes. Spiced with infectious humor and sprinkled with her favorite recipes, it is a witty and compelling coming-of-age story.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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Kitchen Confidential
by Anthony Bourdain

There are food memoirs, and then there is KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL. Anthony Bourdain arguably kicked off the celebrity chef phenomenon with this wickedly funny memoir/expose that revealed the “sex, drugs, and bad behavior of haute cuisine.”

Kitchen Confidential
Anthony Bourdain

There are food memoirs, and then there is KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL. Anthony Bourdain arguably kicked off the celebrity chef phenomenon with this wickedly funny memoir/expose that revealed the “sex, drugs, and bad behavior of haute cuisine.”

MENTIONED IN:

Ear Candy: 14 Favorite Podcasts, 14 Terrific Reads

By Julianna Haubner | August 28, 2017

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
by Barbara Kingsolver

When bestselling novelist Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to embrace a rural life, they vowed that they’d only buy food raised by their neighbors or grown by themselves. With her characteristic poetry and pluck, Kingsolver opens your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: you are what you eat.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Barbara Kingsolver

When bestselling novelist Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to embrace a rural life, they vowed that they’d only buy food raised by their neighbors or grown by themselves. With her characteristic poetry and pluck, Kingsolver opens your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: you are what you eat.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
by Anya Von Bremzen

Anya Von Bremzen occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, and the other where humble kolbasa transports her back to her childhood in a communal Moscow apartment. This wildly inventive, tragicomic memoir tells the tale of feasts, famines, and three generations of her family’s life in the USSR.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
Anya Von Bremzen

Anya Von Bremzen occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, and the other where humble kolbasa transports her back to her childhood in a communal Moscow apartment. This wildly inventive, tragicomic memoir tells the tale of feasts, famines, and three generations of her family’s life in the USSR.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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Julie & Julia
by Julie Powell

Nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell resolved to reclaim her life by cooking every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s legendary MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING in the span of a single year. Filled with humor and gusto, it is just as charming as the Meryl Streep and Amy Adams film adaptation that it inspired.

Julie & Julia
Julie Powell

Nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell resolved to reclaim her life by cooking every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s legendary MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING in the span of a single year. Filled with humor and gusto, it is just as charming as the Meryl Streep and Amy Adams film adaptation that it inspired.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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The Man Who Ate Everything
by Jeffrey Steingarten

When Jeffrey Steingarten was appointed food critic for VOGUE, he set out to overcome his distaste for such things as kimchi, Greek cuisine, and blue colored food. In this impassioned, mouth-watering, and outrageously funny memoir, Steingarten devotes the same gluttonous curiosity to practically everything that anyone anywhere has ever called “dinner.”

The Man Who Ate Everything
Jeffrey Steingarten

When Jeffrey Steingarten was appointed food critic for VOGUE, he set out to overcome his distaste for such things as kimchi, Greek cuisine, and blue colored food. In this impassioned, mouth-watering, and outrageously funny memoir, Steingarten devotes the same gluttonous curiosity to practically everything that anyone anywhere has ever called “dinner.”

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love
by Kristin Kimball

Kristin Kimball knew nothing about growing vegetables when she abandoned her city life and moved to Lake Champlain to start a new farm with a dynamic young farmer. Her vivid descriptions of landscape, food, cooking, and their eventual marriage are irresistible.

The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love
Kristin Kimball

Kristin Kimball knew nothing about growing vegetables when she abandoned her city life and moved to Lake Champlain to start a new farm with a dynamic young farmer. Her vivid descriptions of landscape, food, cooking, and their eventual marriage are irresistible.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

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An Everlasting Meal
by Tamar Adler
This insightful, meditative collection of essays breathes life into the belief that we can start cooking from wherever we are, with whatever we have. It is an elegant testimony to the pleasures of home cooking.
An Everlasting Meal
Tamar Adler

This insightful, meditative collection of essays breathes life into the belief that we can start cooking from wherever we are, with whatever we have. It is an elegant testimony to the pleasures of home cooking.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

An Essential Book That Brings Cooking Back To Where It Belongs

By Allison Tyler | July 15, 2014

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Yes, Chef
by Marcus Samuelsson

World-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson chronicles his remarkable journey: from his childhood in an Ethiopian orphanage to his adoptive Swedish family who inspired his love of cooking to the opening of the beloved Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, a restaurant where presidents and prime ministers rub elbows with jazz musicians, bus drivers, and nurses.

Yes, Chef
Marcus Samuelsson

World-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson chronicles his remarkable journey: from his childhood in an Ethiopian orphanage to his adoptive Swedish family who inspired his love of cooking to the opening of the beloved Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, a restaurant where presidents and prime ministers rub elbows with jazz musicians, bus drivers, and nurses.

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