We want to welcome fall with more exciting ideas for our TWE Bookshelf! Our trailblazers are always full of fascinating Book Picks. We love to grow our bookshelf and want to pass these selections along to you.
These three authors’ expertise is food as you’ll see – from a popular Las Vegas restaurateur to a master of California cuisine and a pie maker extraordinaire who says “the world needs more pie.”
1. TWE Book Picks: Elizabeth Blau, James Beard Award Nominee
Founder and CEO of the restaurant development company Blau + Associates and co-author of Best Cookbook of 2019 by Food & Beverage Magazine, Honey Salt: A Culinary Scrapbook picks Pachinko (Grand Central Publishing) by Min Jin Lee
“My pile of ‘summer reading’ books has now turned into my ‘fall reading’ list as the days keep feeling shorter! Even with the pandemic my focus seemed to gravitate more to baking and closet cleaning than reading!
One of my favorites this summer was Pachinko by Min Jin Lee! It’s an extraordinary saga about four generations of a Korean family under the Japanese occupation and afterward.
The main character is an extraordinary heroine named Sunja! The enormous struggle for Korean woman under the Japanese occupation makes for a mesmerizing tale of courage and resilience.
Of course for me so much of the story is woven around food which makes the story even more intriguing! I love reading historical fiction and Pachinko does not disappoint. Two foodie centric books at the top of my pile are Burn the Place by Iliana Regan and The Fate of Food by Amanda Little.”
2. TWE Book Picks: Pascale Beale, award-winning food writer
Author of nine cookbooks including her latest plant-based celebration of all things salad, Salade I and Salade II: More Recipes from the Market Table, picks The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South (Amistad) by Michael W. Twitty
“I am re-reading an exquisitely written book by renowned food historian and James Beard winner, Michael W. Twitty. His revealing, poignant, and at times, raw memoir, The Cooking Gene, explores his roots – both black and white through the food and culture of Southern cuisine, from slavery to freedom, and from Africa to America.
I first heard about this book when it was reviewed on NPR and was intrigued by his approach to his subject matter.
I am an amateur geneologist, and like Twitty, have tried to unravel the mysteries of my family’s past by digging into ancestral archives and through DNA testing.
Twitty researches his family’s heritage across three centuries, through traditional geneaological methods but also through tobacco farms, plantation kitchens and cotton fields. He recounts his family’s survival, overlaid with the ‘charged politics’ of soul food and all southern cooking. His approach gives body and substance to his narrative. You can taste this history. It is eye opening.
Written on the back cover is the following:
As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep–the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.
That is a mantra that is more appropriate today than ever.”
3. TWE Book Picks: Beth M. Howard, piemaker extraordinaire
“When I traveled around the world making pie in 2015, one of my stops was Beirut, Lebanon. Author and photographer Barbara Abdeni Massaad had invited me to stay in her home and take me to a Syrian refugee camp.
My mission was to promote world peace—or, as I call it, ‘World Piece’—and I wanted to deliver apple pies to refugees as a goodwill gesture.
Barbara had been making soup at a camp during winter for the families living there, which led to creating her bestselling charity cookbook, Soup for Syria, a gorgeous volume of full-page portraits of both refugees and soups, all shot by Barbara.
It’s so beautifully produced that I keep it on my coffee table instead of in my kitchen. The recipes, easy to follow and mostly easy to source ingredients for, are from the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi, Alice Waters, and Anthony Bourdain. The chicken soup recipe from Helena Zakharia is my favorite. With a squeeze of lemon and its touch of cinnamon, it’s my go-to in the winter.
The Women’s Eye has previously featured Barbara on its website, and in its book 20 Women Changemakers, but Soup for Syria warrants another mention. Barbara’s publisher, Interlink, is currently offering 26 of its titles by Lebanese authors, including Barbara’s, at a 30% discount. Proceeds are going to victims of the explosion that destroyed Beirut’s port.
Being a pie baker, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend another one of her titles, Man’oushe: Inside the Lebanese Street Corner Bakery. I can’t get back to Lebanon to offer the comfort of pie, but buying books to support the healing of its people is something I can do—we can all do—with the simple click of mouse.”
Other ways to help:
Story produced by Stacey Gualandi
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