I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately. As an English major, a lover of literature from all eras, and someone who generally refuses to watch documentaries recreationally, this somewhat hard for me to admit. I feel like a new member of one of those “anonymous” groups: “Hi, I’m Anne, and I like non-fiction.”
It was my love of food and cooking that led me down this path. It began last year with Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which proved to be the perfect audiobook accompaniment to my fall-break journey to Holden Village and back. It continued later in the year as small groups of Augustana folks came together to discuss Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I took a break for a while over the summer, choosing to experience food first-hand in my own kitchen using produce from the CSA shares I received weekly from a small farm in Iowa and from local farmers’ markets.
Now that winter is upon us, though, I find myself again living vicariously through another’s encounters with food. I highly recommend Ruth Reichl’s trilogy of memoirs/cookbooks: Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires. Previously the food critic for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and now editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, Reichl engagingly chronicles the many roles food has played in her life; it has served (among other things) as a connection to her father, the basis for jobs from waitress to cook to caterer to critic, a comfort, and a reason to travel the world. She sprinkles her narrative with recipes that directly relate to the events she describes, inviting the reader to experience her life through the foods she has tasted, cooked, and loved. Bon appetit!