Friday, March 10, 2023

Nineteen & The Nom Nom Shelf

This is the day (March 11) my beloved book blog "Blob" turns 19. We can't go out for drinks for another couple of years, but food figures prominently into our plans. As an appetizer, I'd like to take readers on a tour of my Nom Nom Shelf (pictured above) which is all my books about food.

From left to right:

The Betty Crocker Cookbook. 1978. Belonging to my mother, this is the first cookbook in which I ever took an interest. When I asked if I could keep it, she shrugged and said sure. Very much loved and duct-taped.

Favorite Foods From Das Edelweiss Restaurant. This is the last cookbook my mother ever bought. Das Edelweiss was a popular German restaurant in Warsaw, Missouri.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime - Ree Drummond. It's a lovely cookbook with beautifully photographed step-by-step recipes, but I tried the Panzanella recipe and it fell flat for me, so I haven't ventured into Pioneer Womanworld again.

Granny Pottymouth's Fast As F*ck Cookbook - Peggy Glenn. I learned to cook after I became an adult, so cooking and swearing have always been a team in my kitchen. My very favorite recipe in this book is "Chicken and Sweet Potatoes Get Married on a Ranch". An odd combination, but so easy and so delicious. 

The Wurst of Lucky Peach: A treasury of encased meat. - Chris Ying and the editors of Lucky Peach. How the sausage gets made all over the world. A fun read.

Fresh Off The Boat - Eddie Huang. I kept putting this book on the memoir and biography shelf, but it only felt right in with the other Nom Noms. Chalk it up to Eddie Huang's exuberance when he's writing about food.

The Tummy Trilogy - Calvin Trillin. Includes American Fried, Alice, Let's Eat and Third Helpings. I haven't read this yet, and I don't know why. As I understand it, Trillin was visiting diners, drive-ins and dives about 40 years before Guy Fieri. I've paged through The Tummy Trilogy and the writing looks luscious in all senses of the word.

Crying in H Mart - Michelle Zauner. This book also refused to live on the memoir and biography shelf. Zauner's evocative writing about shopping for and preparing and eating Korean food stirred up so many memories for me. I was nearly eating the pages.

Blood, Bones & Butter - Gabrielle Hamilton. I absolutely love chef origin stories; I don't know why I haven't devoured this book yet.

The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South - John T. Edge. I haven't read this book yet, either, but I'm sure I'm going to relish every word.

How to Cook a Wolf - M.F.K. Fisher. ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK. I wrote an ardent review of it back when Blob was still in diapers. 

Let's Eat Korean Food - Betsy O'Brien. A helpful guide about the development of Korean cuisine, how to dine without thoroughly disgracing yourself, and a deep dive into dishes for special days and province by province.

Taste - Stanley Tucci. A delectable memoir served up with wit and a significant dash of irony. I paired this book with a viewing of Tucci's film Big Night. Sometimes you can't tell the difference between your heart and your stomach. With Stanley Tucci, you don't have to.

Tender at the Bone - Ruth Reichl. This is the first memoir I ever read that centered around food, and I've been hooked ever since. Favorite bit: masking a wild party just seconds before parents walk in with the innocent smells of breakfast.

The Best American Food Writing 2018 - Ruth Reichl, editor. My favorite food essays from this anthology were about a journalist who made a trip to the Pioneer Woman's stompin' grounds, Pawhuska, Oklahoma and the NBA's secret sandwich addiction (it was peanut butter and jelly).

Generation Chef - Karen Stabiner. I haven't read this yet.

A Taste for War: The Culinary History of the Blue and the Gray - William C. Davis. The first half of the book is a scholarly examination of how important food was to soldiers during the American Civil War. Many units lacked personnel who had any idea of how to prepare food at all, which led to some wild improvisation. In the POW camps, where starvation reigned, creativity was taken to a whole new sometimes grisly level. The second half of the book is actual recipes from these years.

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home - Jessica Fechtor. I haven't read this yet.

Buttermilk Graffiti - Edward Lee. This book was so smart and thoughtful and intriguing. Edward Lee traveled to several cities around the United States where disparate communities lived near each other and investigated how their cuisines influenced each other. Interspersed with recipes. A feast for the mind.

American Cheese - Joe Berkowitz. I had so much fun reading this book! Berkowitz meets and falls in love with artisan cheese, and follows it everywhere. On a much smaller scale, I fell down my own cheesy rabbit hole, and this blog reflected that for several entries.  Highly recommended. 

Best Food Writing 2003 - Holly Hughes, editor. So many good essays, but my very favorite was "Cajun Pig Party".

Spam: A Biography - Carolyn Wyman. I'm not really a fan of it, but I enjoy reading about Spam. I love the layout of Wyman's book; it looks the way fanzines used to look. My favorite part was about the yearly Spam sculpting contests in Seattle. Sadly, these are a thing of the past.

Books on top:

Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain. One of my favorites across all genres. Audacious and hilarious. I really miss Anthony Bourdain.

The Joy of Cooking - Irma S. Rombauer. This is a facsimile of the first edition from 1931. The recipes, nearly a century old, seem antiquated, but they are short and easy to read. It would be fun if someone decided to take on the project of cooking all these dishes.

Not shown:

The Best American Food Writing 2021 - Gabrielle Hamilton, editor. I haven't read this collection yet.

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto - Joan Reardon, editor. Haven't read yet; looking forward to dipping in.

That tour of the Nom Nom shelf made me hungry. It's time to eat, then read. In that order.

Happy Birthday, Blob!

EDITED TO ADD: I found another food book hiding in my collection. It was tucked away in a nondescript section of nonfiction. I will put it with the other Nom Noms. I'm gonna need a bigger shelf.

Eating To Extinction: The World's Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them - Dan Saladino. Nonfiction. I got this book for my birthday, and haven't read it yet. Many books ask what the hell are we eating? Saladino turns the question on its head: What the hell are we NOT eating anymore? And why? The chapters are divided into food types (Wild, Cereal, Vegetable) followed with the featured foods and their locations. Saladino profiles the individuals around the world who are striving to bring the endangered foods back. He also discusses how the disappearance of these foods mean not only goodbye to tastes, smells, and methods of preparation, but also a red flag in regards to the health of the planet. I know I'm going to enjoy and learn while I'm reading this book.


Jeane said...

Happy blog birthday! Glad you're celebrating it

Jeane said...

Came back to add: I have Joy of Cooking on my shelf too- and it really intimidates me!

Bybee said...


Many of the names of the recipes and descriptions sound unappetizing. Probably because I'm used to modern cookbooks that set the stage with tempting introductions and toothsome photos. Overall, it seems as if cookbooks back then were more about keeping alive rather than tantalizing the taste buds.

Jeane said...

That's funny. I haven't looked closely enough into it, to get any perspective on that.

james b chester said...

Fun collection. I have to move Crying in H Mart up to the top of my TBR stack. I hear someone has bought the movie rights. Probably Netflx.

May I recommend "Gastronomical Me" by M.F.K. Fisher? She is one the best ever food writers and this account of all the wonderful food she had in her life is a wonderful read. It even made me reconsider oysters. I still don't like them, but she sure did make them sound good.

Happy blog birthday.

Bybee said...

Oh yes, recommend away! I want to read all of Fisher's books.