Suggestions to Start Your Reading Year
Anyone who has made resolutions to read more in 2017 can start the year off by adding these foodie fiction titles to their reading list.
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (2009)
As a seasoned chef, Lillian opens up her restaurant kitchen one night a week to teach cooking classes. The story is told through the eyes of eight students. Whether cooking crab, baking cake, rolling pasta, or dipping into fondue, Lillian’s culinary style provides guidance about the perfect ingredients that help both in developing delicious recipes and solving relationship issues outside the kitchen. A mix of genders, ages, and professions, the students are so attuned to Lillian’s cooking that the food itself becomes a character, and they each begin to understand how they cook and taste food in their own individual ways. The lessons in cooking, along with the right ingredients, help the students conjure memories from the past or find direction for a life that needed new meaning. Just as the cooking classes give the students a chance to step out of their everyday lives, Bauermeister’s story is an escape into the interlocking lives of this group of people sharing in the pleasures of food.
The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig (2015)
Claire is searching for personal healing when she brings her skills as a pastry chef back to her hometown to open Rainbow Cake bakery. It’s no surprise that dessert can be good therapy, and Claire discovers that she cannot find the answers she is looking for until she tastes them, since flavours are strong indicators of mood in this story. It is only by being busy in the bakery, caught up in the details of cake decorating, that Claire can make sense of the world to fill the holes in her heart. With more flavours, aromas, and colours than even the name of her bakery can evoke, she immerses herself in the business of wedding cakes. Psychology runs deep as Claire assesses the needs of her bride-to-be clients through cake tastings, discovering flavours that momentarily make them forget about life’s problems, bring back pleasant family memories, and even bring a small town mystery to light when an antique wedding ring unexpectedly resurfaces in her bakery.
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais (2010)
Across cities and continents, we follow Hassan on a global journey starting in India and ending in France, with a short stay in England in between. All the while Hassan does not know what he is looking for, only knowing that the aromas and flavours of the family restaurant from his childhood have shaped who he is. When his father opens a new restaurant in France, the culinary culture of India takes on French cuisine in a bitter restaurant rivalry, and Hassan takes a hundred-foot journey that changes his life forever; physically, it is a short distance between two different restaurants in the same town, but ethnically, the gap is enormous. Other French chefs begin to notice that Hassan is a natural born chef with “the culinary equivalent of perfect pitch” and his destiny is intertwined with haute cuisine, Bombay street food, and Michelin stars.
Darin Cook is a freelance writer based in Chatham who keeps himself well-read and well-fed by visiting the bookstores and restaurants of London.