The upside of June gloom: It's the perfect excuse to check a few titles off the kids' summer reading list and to get started on your own. After all, the sunburns and 100 degree days will be waiting in July and August.
Here are some of our favorite recently released food and drink book recommendations, plus a few from last year that, if you haven't yet gotten to yet, you really must. Yes, recommendations for tweens and teenagers are noticeably absent. But other than the exceptionally interested few (lucky you), they're not going to read what we recommend anyway. Turn the page -- and check back later this week for our favorite summer cookbooks.
Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat
Cat fan or not, this storybook version of Pasadena native Julia Child's cat, Minette, by Susanna Reich with illustrations by Amy Bates is quite charming for the youngest readers. Consider this (cat) nip preview from the Introduction: "Minette is the luckiest cat in Paris. Day and night she smells mayonnaise, hollandaise, cassoulets, cheese soufflés, and duck pâtés wafting from the pots and pans of her owner, Julia Child." Ages 3+.
Bon Appetit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child
As for Child herself, the new children's biography by Jessie Hartland, Bon Appetit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child is full of great quips ("high school French class is a disaster") and fantastic illustrations. For more, see our full review. Kindergarten and up.
The World in a Skillet
We like to think of Paul and Angela Knipple's first book as purposeful beach reading with timely flip-through potential. Meaning this is the sort of book you can pull out to start the morning with a few thought-provoking, hard-working food stories. And also a book that, by beach chair beer number three, becomes a cookbook that you can casually flip through for its dinner recipe potential: Don Felix's pork ribs, Father Vien's pickled mustard greens, Elizabeth Kizito's Ugandan-style plantains in peanut sauce. Full review here.
The Juice: Vinous Veritas
A compilation of novelist and wine writer Jay McInerney's columns over the years, his latest book offers a global wine tour with stops at El Bulli and closer to home in Paso Robles, as to be expected from a guy who lives by the mantra "you can never really drink the same wine twice." L. A. also makes a few key appearances, like in "The Rock Stars of Pinot Noir" chapter with the now-famous story of a particularly influential dinner at Joe's in Venice. A couple bottles of Williams Selyem and Rochioli were the reason L.A. bond trader George Levkoff ditched the business life to make his own Russian River Pinot (he later interned at Willams Selyem before branching out with his own one-man label, George, now a sell-out hit).
Blood, Bones & Butter
Because if you haven't read Gabrielle Hamilton's fantastic chronicles of a food-driven life, rotten tomatoes and all, you absolutely must. It remains one of the best food memoirs we've read in years, a personal recollection yet refreshingly free from self (blog and restaurant) promotion.
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After which, we suggest Barry Estrabrook's Tomatoland to reveal the less obvious rotten tomato: The "perfect" tomato. It's a good thing it happens to be heirloom tomato season, as after reading this you will never want to buy a hydroponic tomato from the grocery store again. Says Estabrook: "If you have ever eaten a tomato during the winter months, you have eaten a fruit picked by a slave." Full review here.
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