I am food obsessed. I don’t just mean I like to eat food. I like to cook it. I like to shop for it. I like to photograph it and share it with my family and friends. When I swim or walk for exercise I am thinking about food. When I sleep I dream about food. And I love to read about it. I read cookbooks and food magazines, the food section in newspapers, and novels with protagonists who are chefs or bakers or otherwise part of the food world.
I especially love a good food memoir. My fondness for this genre started with Laurie Colwin’s classics Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, and More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen, published in 1988 and 1993 respectively. The New York Times Book Review wrote “Weaving together memories, recipes, and wild tales of years spent in the kitchen, Colwin writes of the joys of sharing food and entertaining. From the humble hotplate of her one-room apartment to the crowded kitchens of bustling parties, Colwin regales us with tales of meals gone both magnificently well and disastrously wrong. Hilarious, personal, and full of Colwin’s hard-won expertise, Home Cooking speaks to the heart of any amateur cook, professional chef, or food lover.”
After those books I was hooked and have gone on the read (and love) many food-centric memoirs, including Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Julia Child’s My Life in France, and Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone. Perhaps less well known but no less entertaining were Emily Nunn’s The Comfort Food Diaries, Beth Howard’s Making Piece (a memoir about pie!), Rick Bragg’s The Best Cook in the World, Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life and Ann Hood’s Kitchen Yarns. I’m always intrigued by the recipes they choose to share. Most recently I devoured (pun intended) Stanley Tucci’s Taste: My Life Through Food. Here’s a simple recipe of Tucci’s that I can’t wait to try:
Pasta alla Carbonara
12 oz. spaghetti or rigatoni
4 oz. guanciale (I’ll use bacon)
¼ c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
4 fresh large egg yolks
Salt & pepper
Cut guanciale into 2” strips. Combine the egg yolks with the grated cheese and a pinch of black pepper. Brown the guanciale in a sauté pan 2 min. until crisp. Turn off heat and leave in pan to cool. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve a ladleful of the pasta water then drain pasta. Pour the reserved hot water into the sauté pan with the cooled meat, then transfer the pasta to the same pan and mix together. Add the yolk and cheese mixture, stirring rapidly. In the warm pan with the hot pasta, the eggs will cook gently and become creamy – don’t stir over heat, otherwise the carbonara will become lumpy. It’s important to stir quickly to prevent the yolks from congealing and taking on the texture of scrambled eggs. Season with freshly milled black pepper and serve immediately on heated plates.
These and many other food memoirs await you at the Dillsburg Area Public Library. Go online or stop by to reserve a few today! Bon Appetit!