Thursday, August 17, 2006

Summer Reading

Did you read Kitchen Confidential? Did it make you wish you could be a fly on the wall in a restaurant kitchen? If so, you've gotta read Heat. First off, Bill Buford is just a terrific writer. He was the founding editor of the literary magazine Granta and is a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he was an editor up until the point that he delved headlong into The Kitchen.

One of Mario Batali's restaurant kitchens that is. Buford becomes a man obsessed with the kitchen and begins an odyssey that leads him to Italy and back several times. Obsessed might sound a little strong but imagine a man carrying a whole pig home from a green market on a scooter. Get the picture? Buford is part writer and part cook as he shares the experiences of a fast paced restaurant kitchen, then travels to Italy to learn to make pasta, and then back to Italy again to learn from a master butcher.

But that's not the whole story. In his journeys he learns about the history of Italy, Italian food, Italian culture, restaurant culture, and then some. Does Buford lose objectivity for his subjects? Probably, but who cares. It's a great ride.

I am only a little ways in to Molly O'Neill's Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food and Baseball but so far I'm enjoying it. O'Neill is best known from her time as a New York Times food writer but also has a brother who was a major league baseball player. It seems likely that everyones family is crazy and O'Neill's family is no exception. In her memoir she tells great funny stories creating a vivid picture of her large and colorful family. This is a tale about growing up in America, about family, about food and eventually I guess I'll get to the baseball part!

Over at Bay Area Bites are my picks for the best books on grilling.