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12 Best Books About Food (That Aren’t Cookbooks!)

Best Books About Food

We love books about food and not just those with tasty recipes inside them.

A good food writer can make food writing so exciting that we’re as hungry for more words as we are for more food.

So, here are our favorite food books that aren’t our favourite cookbooks (which you can find a link to at the bottom of this article).

Each of these food writers really knows their stuff and food lovers will find their work to be a tasty treat, indeed.


The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life Of James Beard by John Birdsall

Yes, the James Beard they named the cooking awards after. This is part history and part biography of a man who changed the world of cooking for good.

It also examines how Beard had to struggle with his sexuality while tapping into the best in food and changing the course of his life for the better, forever.

You can find it online here and here.


Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Many an award-winning restaurant would have been delighted to have had Anthony, the infamous chef working for them.

This book came from a single article, penned by the great man himself called “Don’t Eat Before You Read This” and it has been updated many times since it was first published.

It’s shocking and entertaining and every bit as brilliant as the man himself.

You can find it online here and here.


Crying In H-Mart by Michelle Zauner

A book by a grammy-nominated rockstar? Oh yeah.

This is an amazing journey into what it means to be a convenience store woman in a Korean store. Michelle’s family history and the food system of Korea.

It’s about what it’s like to lose a mother and find yourself through recipes and more. It’s moving and fascinating. You will love it as much as we did.

You can find it online here and here.


How To Be A Conscious Eater by Sophie Egan

If you want to know if the food you put in your mouth is worth putting in your mouth – read this.

It’s a stunning tour of the food industry and how you can become a better and healthier consumer.

You can find it online here and here.


On Food And Cooking by Harold McGee

An all-time culinary classic. Harold Mcgee’s book was the first major text to take on the concept of “food science”.

This is everything anyone needs to know about enjoying good, preparing it, and cooking it and while there are no recipes – it should be used in conjunction with your favourite cookbooks if you want to get the most out of it.

You can find it online here and here.


Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci’s autobiographical text was named a “Notable Book of 2021” by The Washington Post and NPR.

The award-winning actor really knows his food and this is a touching introduction not to a restaurant kitchen but to his family meal table.

It’s packed with entertaining anecdotes about his family and the world at large.

You can find it online here and here.

The Secret Life Of Groceries: The Dark Miracle Of The American Supermarket by Benjamin Lorr

Have you ever wondered how the ingredients for your favorite recipes get to the shelf? Ever thought about the human and environmental cost of that journey?

Well, Benjamin Lorr did and he pulls aside the curtain on the grocery business and lets you see all the intricate workings within. He’ll make you laugh with some of his revelations.

And he’ll make you cry too. He’ll put you in the shoes of people throughout the food supply chain and you’ll experience their lives vividly, even when, perhaps, you’d rather not.

You can find it online here and here.

The Making Of A Chef by Michael Ruhlman

What happens when a journalist decides to go back to school and become a chef? That’s the journey that this book takes.

Michael Ruhlman opts to put down his pen and don the chef’s jacket at the Culinary Institue of America.

This is far more interesting than it sounds and this book is a compelling account of what it takes to go from “interested in cooking” to “master of the art”.

We love the passion and attention to detail that Michael brings to everything – it transforms this from a “diary” to the kind of novel, we all want to read.

You can find it online here and here.

Heat by Bill Buford

Bill Buford was once a food writer for the New Yorker.

Then he quit and went to work for an Italian restaurant called Babbo. He wanted to understand the mechanics behind the things he had been eating.

And after some entertaining struggles in the kitchen, he learns enough to make the next step – a trip to Italy where he learns all that he needs to ensure that his table is always stocked with the finest cuisine.

You can find it online here and here.

My Life In France by Julia Child

America’s most famous chef, possibly, is Julia Child and this book about her early life is so good that they made a movie of it.

Her challenge? To get a grasp on French culture and French food at the Cordon Bleu and she rises to it admirably in the end but it’s the hard path that she follows to get there that makes this a superb read.

You can find it online here and here.

Eat A Peach by David Chang

David got into food after fleeing the United States for Japan, he had simply become overwhelmed by his family and his own country.

Eat A Peach lays out his every move from then until he opened the, now, world-famous Momofuku restaurants. This is a story worth telling.

You can find it online here and here.

Our Lady Of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donovan

This witty, charming, and often very funny James Beard award-winning book is the best look at the world of desserts that you can imagine.

We’ve used Lisa’s recipes in the past but this is one of the best pieces of food writing that we’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter. Don’t miss it.

You can find it online here and here.

Final Thoughts On The Top Books About Food

So, there you go each food writer listed above has made a part of culinary history come to life in a similar way that the best food is more than just nutrition. From celebrity chefs to those passionate about Italian food, there’s something for everyone here.

And if you want some great books about food that are cookbooks – may we recommend these Greek cookbooks, these Filipino cookbooks, or these Asian cookbooks? They’re all awesome.

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