Food habits

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley's graphic novel Relish: My Life in the Kitchen zigzags between biography, cookbook, travelogue, and manifesto of all things culinary. What's more, her fun, vibrantly colorful artwork often made me very hungry. This is the mark of success for such a book.

Relish explores every aspect of food's vast appeal, whether it is for purposes of comfort, nourishment, or to just satisfy that insatiable craving for sautéed mushrooms.

Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms

By Greg A. Marley

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"Throughout history, people have had a complex and confusing relationship with mushrooms. Are fungi food or medicine, beneficial decomposers or deadly 'toadstools' ready to kill anyone foolhardy enough to eat them? In fact, there is truth in all these statements. In Chanterelle Dreams and Amanita Nightmares, author Greg Marley reveals some of the wonders and mysteries of mushrooms, and our conflicting human reactions to them.

"With tales from around the world, Marley, a seasoned mushroom expert, explains that some cultures are mycophilic (mushroom-loving), like those of Russia and Eastern Europe, while others are intensely mycophobic (mushroom-fearing), including, the US. He shares stories from China, Japan, and Korea--where mushrooms are interwoven into the fabric of daily life as food, medicine, fable, and folklore--and from Slavic countries where whole families leave villages and cities during rainy periods of the late summer and fall and traipse into the forests for mushroom-collecting excursions.

"From the famous Amanita phalloides (aka 'the Death Cap'), reputed killer of Emperor Claudius in the first century AD, to the beloved chanterelle (cantharellus cibarius) known by at least eighty-nine different common names in almost twenty-five languages, Chanterelle Dreams and Amanita Nightmares explores the ways that mushrooms have shaped societies all over the globe.

"This fascinating and fresh look at mushrooms--their natural history, their uses and abuses, their pleasures and dangers--is a splendid introduction to both fungi themselves and to our human fascination with them. From useful descriptions of the most foolproof edible species to revealing stories about hallucinogenic or poisonous, yet often beautiful, fungi, Marley's long and passionate experience will inform and inspire readers with the stories of these dark and mysterious denizens of our forest floor."

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

By Barbara Kingsolver

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When Kingsolver and her family move from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia, they take on a new challenge: to spend a year on a locally produced diet, paying close attention to the provenance of all they consume. "Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we'd know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be ourselves as we learned to produce what we needed, starting with dirt, seeds, and enough knowledge to muddle through. Or starting with baby animals, and enough sense to refrain from naming them."

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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

By Michael Pollan

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"Pollan suggests that if we would pay more for better, well-grown food, but buy less of it, we'll benefit ourselves, our communities, and the environment at large. Taking a clear-eyed look at what science does and does not know about the links between diet and health, he proposes a new way to think about the question of what to eat that is informed by ecology and tradition rather than by the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach. In Defense of Food reminds us that, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, the solutions to the current omnivore's dilemma can be found all around us.

"In looking toward traditional diets the world over, as well as the foods our families--and regions--historically enjoyed, we can recover a more balanced, reasonable, and pleasurable approach to food. Michael Pollan's bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we might start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives and enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy."

Also available on audio and in large print.

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Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family

By Art Smith

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Art Smith is Oprah Winfrey's personal chef. Smith provides readers with an array of mouth-watering recipes that represent the very best of home cooking. He also discusses how to set the table in a way that gives reverence to the food and the guests; how various cultures give blessings before a meal; how different kinds of foods and dishes can contribute to an atmosphere of family unity; and so much more! Back to the Table is illustrated throughout with stunning photos of the food and of people sharing their tables, and their lives. He has cooked professionally for the families of celebrities and heads-of-state for almost 20 years.

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The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World

By Michael Pollan

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"Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—-sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—-with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?"
Also available on DVD.

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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

By Michael Pollan

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"As the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast food outlet confronts us with a bewildering and treacherous landscape, what's at stake becomes not only our own and our children's health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth. Pollan follows each of the food chains--industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves--from the source to the final meal, always emphasizing our co-evolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on. The surprising answers Pollan offers have profound political, economic, psychological, and even moral implications for all of us."

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The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee

By Stewart Lee Allen

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"Coffee as history's primary instrument and instigator. What is this elixir that fuels our destiny? Stewart Lee Allen's insatiable, unquenchable thirst for the answer carries him across forbidden borders and several continents as he pursues the precious and little-known catalytic effect of the ambrosial brew upon world empires and mankind. He also documents the unconscionable attempts to suppress coffee. With Paris one 'vast caf,' for instance, Napoleon banned coffee, but then was summarily overthrown and exiled. His last request: a cup of St. Helena's best. Likewise, Germany's long anti-coffee campaigns kept java from offering its solace to the lower classes. In 1930 German workers voted Adolf Hitler into power. In America the military tried for fifty years to produce an easily brewed cup for battlefield use, and did. The perfection of instant coffee triggered a 3,000 percent jump in consumption during World War I and stimulated the rise of the United States to world-class power."

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