July is Picnic Month, Hot Dog Month, Grilling Month, Ice Cream Month, Blueberry Month, and Watermelon Month so this month’s task for our 2021 Reading Challenge is to read a cook book or a food memoir. Below you’ll find a few recommendations to meet the task, but for even more suggestions, give us a call at 708-867-7828. Your librarians are here to help.
Download a printable form and keep track of your reading tasks throughout the year to earn a free book.
Nourish Me Home by Cortney Burn
Nourish Me Home features 110 recipes in six chapters that pay homage to the seasons and the elements of water, fire, air, and ether. The curious, creative, fearless Cortney Burns-formerly of Bar Tartine-is back with a personal cookbook project about nostalgia, immigration, and her own uniquely delicious recipes
Cortney Burns’s cooking always includes layered flavors and textures, surprising ingredients, and healthful twists, and her recipes range from weeknight turn-tos such as salads, soups, and vegetable-forward mains to the homemade liqueurs and ferments she’s famous for.
Eat a Peach by David Chang
In 2004, Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in a tiny, stark space in Manhattan’s East Village. Its young chef-owner, David Chang, worked the line, serving ramen and pork buns to a mix of fellow restaurant cooks and confused diners whose idea of ramen was instant noodles in Styrofoam cups. It would have been impossible to know it at the time—and certainly Chang would have bet against himself—but he, who had failed at almost every endeavor in his life, was about to become one of the most influential chefs of his generation, driven by the question, “What if the underground could become the mainstream?”
Chang grew up the youngest son of a deeply religious Korean American family in Virginia. Graduating college aimless and depressed, he fled the States for Japan, hoping to find some sense of belonging. While teaching English in a backwater town, he experienced the highs of his first full-blown manic episode, and began to think that the cooking and sharing of food could give him both purpose and agency in his life.
Full of grace, candor, grit, and humor, Eat a Peach chronicles Chang’s switchback path. He lays bare his mistakes and wonders about his extraordinary luck as he recounts the improbable series of events that led him to the top of his profession. He wrestles with his lifelong feelings of otherness and inadequacy, explores the mental illness that almost killed him, and finds hope in the shared value of deliciousness. Along the way, Chang gives us a penetrating look at restaurant life, in which he balances his deep love for the kitchen with unflinching honesty about the industry’s history of brutishness and its uncertain future.
100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer
From celebrated blogger Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog! 100 Cookies is a go-to baking resource featuring 100 recipes for cookies and bars, organized into seven chapters. Chocolatey, fruity, crispy, chewy, classic, inventive—there’s a foolproof recipe for the perfect treat for everyone in this book. This is the comprehensive-yet-charming cookbook every cookie lover (or those who love to bake cookies) needs.
Notes From a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi
By the time he was twenty-seven years old, Kwame Onwuachi had opened—and closed—one of the most talked about restaurants in America. He had sold drugs in New York and been shipped off to rural Nigeria to “learn respect.” He had launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars made from selling candy on the subway and starred on Top Chef. Through it all, Onwuachi’s love of food and cooking remained a constant, even when, as a young chef, he was forced to grapple with just how unwelcoming the food world can be for people of color. In this inspirational memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age; a powerful, heartfelt, and shockingly honest account of chasing your dreams—even when they don’t turn out as you expected.
Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier by Victoria James
At just twenty-one, the age when most people are starting to drink (well, legally at least), Victoria James became the country’s youngest sommelier at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Even as Victoria was selling bottles worth hundreds and thousands of dollars during the day, passing sommelier certification exams with flying colors, and receiving distinction from all kinds of press, there were still groping patrons, bosses who abused their role and status, and a trip to the hospital emergency room.
It would take hitting bottom at a new restaurant and restorative trips to the vineyards where she could feel closest to the wine she loved for Victoria to re-emerge, clear-eyed and passionate, and a proud leader of her own Michelin-starred restaurant.
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
After Molly Wizenberg’s father died, she traveled to Paris and-amidst its culinary delights-realized her heart was in the kitchen. So she began Orangette, a highly popular cooking and life blog that eventually led her to the love of her life.
The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini
The skills of butchery meet the world of fresh produce in this essential, inspiring guide that demystifies the world of vegetables. In step-by-step photographs, “vegetable butcher” Cara Mangini shows how to break down a butternut squash, cut a cauliflower into steaks, peel a tomato properly, chiffonade kale, turn carrots into coins and parsnips into matchsticks, and find the meaty heart of an artichoke. Additionally, more than 150 original, simple recipes put vegetables front and center, from a Kohlrabi Carpaccio to Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne, to a Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake to sweeten a winter meal. It’s everything you need to know to get the best out of modern, sexy, and extraordinarily delicious vegetables.
You and I Eat the Same by Chris Ying
Good food is the common ground shared by all of us, and immigration is fundamental to good food. In eighteen thoughtful and engaging essays and stories, You and I Eat the Same explores the ways in which cooking and eating connect us across cultural and political borders, making the case that we should think about cuisine as a collective human effort in which we all benefit from the movement of people, ingredients, and ideas. An awful lot of attention is paid to the differences and distinctions between us, especially when it comes to food. But the truth is that food is that rare thing that connects all people, slipping past real and imaginary barriers to unify humanity through deliciousness. Don’t believe it? Read on to discover more about the subtle (and not so subtle) bonds created by the ways we eat.