Books I’ve enjoyed

In place of amazing pictures of rapturous culinary delights, I bring you now three books related to food and wine that I’ve read recently and thoroughly enjoyed.  Though reading about food isn’t quite as satisfying as eating the food itself, I did get a distinct and unique pleasure from each of these books that actually heightened my dining experiences

The Man Who Ate the World by Jay Rayner

This book is all about a guy named Jay Rayner who was a food critic for the British newspaper The Guardian.  After becoming disillusioned with the standard food critic scene, he sets off on a trip around the world in search of the “perfect” meal.  I found the book fascinating because he describes in quite a bit of detail his epicurious adventures through the diverse food cultures of Moscow, Dubai, London, New York, Tokyo, and Paris.  It was an appetite-inducing race through six incredibly different approaches to food, dining, and restaurants, and one that I won’t soon forget.

Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch

If you’re reading this blog and you haven’t heard of The French Laundry, then you’re probably in the wrong place.  It is arguably the restaurant in America and chef Thomas Keller has an equally awe-inspiring and ridiculously exclusive (read: impossible to get a reservation) restaurant in New York named Per Se.  Service Included is the story of a young woman who started as a waitress in a diner and somehow found herself as a part of the pioneering wait staff at Per Se when it first opened.  The book is an excellent way for those of us who may never get a chance to peer behind Per Se’s ominous blue doors to live the high dining life vicariously.  She describes the detail, craftsmanship, and sheer manpower that goes into running a restaurant of Per Se’s caliber in exacting detail, and she provides an absorbing account of the culture of haut cuisine.

Wine and War by Donald and Petie Kladstrup

Ever wonder what the Germans did with all the precious and valuable French wine during World War II?  This book tells the tale of the vignerons of France and how they managed to hide and protect their cultural treasure from the Nazis during the period of occupation.  We’ve all know the basic history of WWII, but I really enjoyed reading about the war from an entirely different perspective, and specifically how critical the vineyards were to the success of the Resistance movement.  Along with collections of rare bottles, the heads of the chateaux from Burgandy to Bordeaux to the Loire Valley also smuggled munitions, Jews, refugees, and information into and through their subterranean caves.  Wine and War definitely gave me a new appreciation of the venerable institution that is French wine.

Mark posted this on July 13, 2008 and is filed under Quips n' Tips.

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