Share Your Favorite Foodie Fiction

by Kim on April 20, 2011 · 39 comments

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I want to read some fiction about food.

This yearning came up when Andi (Estella’s Revenge) and I started contemplating the next book for BookClubSandwich, our online book club for foodies and wannabes. So far, all of the books we’ve read for BookClubSandwich have been nonfiction, and we wanted to branch out a bit. (Well, I guess technically Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is a novel, but it’s embedded so much into the tradition of muckraking journalism that I think of it as pretty close to nonfiction.)

However, when I floated the suggestion for foodie fiction to Andi on Twitter, I couldn’t come up with any books to suggest. I felt lame. But that’s where I’m hoping you’ll come in.

Others might disagree, but I don’t think a book that’s foodie fiction necessarily has to have recipes or even be about cooking. However, food does have to play an important role in the story — it needs to mean something to the characters or have a role in moving the plot along. For our next pick, I want a book with lush, delectable writing, stirring characters, and a story that’s made for sinking your teeth into.

There are some books that would be awesome, but are off the table for BookClubSandwich this time around:

Those are the kinds of books I want to be reading, I just can’t think of more examples because my brain is so stuck on nonfiction. Help a girl out!

Any recommendations for books about food that you’ve loved? What qualities do you think good foodie fiction has — are recipes a requirement or just cool? Any sources you go to when you’re looking for foodie books?

Photo Credit: Zitona via Flickr

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa April 20, 2011 at 8:18 am

Oh, definitely The School of Essential Ingredients. Also, check out the Foodies Challenge blog – you can get to it from Margot’s http://www.joyfullyretired.com blog – for some ideas!

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Thanks Melissa. I remember hearing about that book, but had totally forgotten about it!

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LindsayC April 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm

This is hard! Most of my favorite food writing comes in the form of nonfiction columns (Amanda Hesser’s “Cooking for Mr. Latte,” any of the “Best Food Writing” series). But let me check out my bookshelf for a moment …

Shoot. “A Year in Provence.” “My Life in France.” Both nonfiction. Um.

Let’s see. I loved “Like Water For Chocolate.” Beautiful book, magical realism. Goodreads seems to think “Daughter of Fortune” is foodie fiction, and while I loved the book, I am not sure I agree with that categorization — it’s more immigrant fiction.

I have “Chocolat” on my shelf if you want to borrow it — haven’t read it yet. Or, oh! I love this book: http://www.amazon.com/Dying-Chocolate-Goldy-Culinary-Mysteries/dp/0553560247.

“Dying for Chocolate” is a mystery novel set in (beautiful) Colorado. It’s fun, a super fast read AND it includes recipes for some extremely delicious desserts (which I could make to prove the point). The main character is a caterer. I know it looks cheesy — it is — but it’s also highly enjoyable.

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Leeswammes (Judith) April 21, 2011 at 3:24 am

Chocolat by Joanne Harris is great!

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Judith: I think I had a copy of Chocolate at some point, but I don’t think I’ve ever read it.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Thanks for all the recommendations Lindsay – I should have known you’d come up with a lot of recommendations!

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Andi April 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I JUST read Coffee and a Book Chick’s review of The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry, and it sounds awesome!!! Write it down before I forget!

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Andi: Yes! That’s a great one for the list. I should have thought of it myself :)

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bermudaonion (Kathy) April 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I just read, and loved, The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Thanks Kathy – I read your review and the book sounds really good!

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softdrink April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm

You should go with The Kitchen Daughter, because I want to read it, and you know, life is all about me. :-D

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm

softdrink: Well, when you’re as cool as you are, it’s ok to be all about you :)

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Teresa April 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I enjoyed Good Enough to Eat by Stacy Ballis and Georgia’s Kitchen by Jenny Nelson.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Thanks Teresa, I’ll go check those out!

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Maphead April 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Tough one for me, but I would lean towards “Salt” by Mark Kurlansky

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Maphead: I’ve wanted to read that book for a long time – thanks for the reminder!

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Jodie April 21, 2011 at 7:45 am

Anthony Capella’s books generally centre a lot around food, but ‘The Food of Love’ is the most obvious book for me to suggest (although I love ‘The Wedding Officer’ more, which features a girl trying to keep her family restaurant open). It’s a retelling of the Cyrano de Bergerac story (without the giant nose, but with seduction by food). I think he has a new one out about ice cream now.

‘The Sugar Queen’ is lovely, but I think Andi’s already read it and it’s a magical realism romance (not sure if that’s your cup of tea).

YA suggestion – ‘A la Carte’ by Tanita Davis, features a vegetarian teenager who wants to be a tv chef and it contains recipies.

Hmm I feel like there should be more…but I guess I read a lot of books which describe yummy food but don’t make it a central part of the story.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Jodie: Thanks for all the recommendations Jodie. The YA suggestion looks like fun.

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Jodie April 21, 2011 at 7:50 am

Duh, duh me! Of course there’s ‘Baking Cakes in Kigali’ by Gail Parkin which contains a woman who makes specialist cakes. There’s cake making and talk about serious issues of Rwandan culture, all done with a light (but not too fluffy) touch.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Jodie: And so does that one – sounds like it would be just what I’ve been looking for :)

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Jeanne April 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

I think A Year in Provence reads like fiction–it’s the first book I think of when I think of books about food. I also love Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires a lot. And you can’t go wrong with M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Jeanne: Of all of Reichl’s memoirs, I was leaning towards Garlic and Sapphires.

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Vasilly April 21, 2011 at 8:41 am

Like Water for Chocolate is great foodie fiction and it’s worth a re-read. Chocolat is another favorite foodie fiction of mine.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Thanks Vasilly, those both seem like great suggestions.

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LindsayC77 April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

I’m glad that so many people are having the same trouble I am. Several of these are nonfiction. :-)

I spotted The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake at the library last night and I am LOVING it so far. So glad for this post!

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Lindsay: I’m glad you like Lemon Cake — it’s looked really lovely from all the reviews I’ve read.

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Lu April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am

A couple people have already mentioned The Kitchen Daughter… I just finished it too and I really really loved it! The descriptions of food are amazing.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Lu: I think I read your review too — sounded great!

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Aths April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

The only one I’ve read is The Kitchen Daughter. Foodie fiction is not really my thing, but I thought TKD was cute!

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Aths: I go through phases when I want to read about food, but right now that’s what I’m looking for :)

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Donna R. Ferron April 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

Poppy Z. Brite’s New Orleans trilogy were good foodie books with a mystery: Liquor, Prime and Soul Kitchen.

I just stumbled upon your blog. It’s very interesting and I’m adding to my book list already.

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Kim April 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Donna: Thanks for the recommendations — I’ll look for that one!

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Lisa Munley April 23, 2011 at 9:09 am

Both The Kitchen Daughter and The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher are getting rave reviews on their TLC tours! My mom is reading THe Sharper Your Knife, the Harder You Cry and really enjoying it.

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Kim April 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Thanks Lisa, I’ve seen a bunch of those reviews around and both books look like a lot of fun. I’ll add them to the list.

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Trish April 23, 2011 at 9:45 am

LOL–so I guess this is what you were referring to when we were tweeting back and forth the other day. ;) Easy to sneak on twitter via phone at work but not so much blogs.

Foodie Fiction. Fannie Flagg comes to mind but not sure that’s foodie enough. Love Fried Green Tomatoes but it’s been years since I’ve read it. Much easier to list the non-ficiton books. :-/

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Kim April 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Trish: Yep :) Fried Green Tomatoes might be fun, I’ve actually never read that one!

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christa @ mental foodie April 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

A lot of the ones I thought of were already mentioned. One hadn’t yet – is The Last Chinese Chef. The plot is just okay for me but my, the food described in the book made me hungry.

My review:
http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/04/book-review-last-chinese-chef-novel-by.html

2 chicklit swith food as a central ingredient (haha) are Simply from Scratch by Alician Bessette and The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkle.

My reviews:

http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2011/01/book-review-simply-from-scratch-by.html

http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/01/book-review-recipe-club-tale-of-food.html

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Kim April 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Thanks a lot Christa! The Last Chinese Chef looks like it could be fun.

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