Celebrated food writer, editor, and restaurant critic Ruth Reichl had risen to the pinnacle of her profession as editor-in-chief of Gourmet, when, after ten years at the magazine, publisher Condé Nast decided to close it down. Having held several of the top food editing jobs in America, and already a best-selling author, Reichl was 61 years old and unsure of what to do next. So she did what she most liked to do: she retreated to her kitchen and cooked. Over the course of a year, she tried new recipes, engaged other cooks and eaters on Twitter, and eventually realized she had the makings of a new book, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life (Random House, $35). Organized around the seasons of the year, the book features Reichl’s unique gift for story-telling and will satisfy the most omnivorous eaters, with recipes that run the gamut from pork roast to purslane tacos to nectarine galette.
My favorite parties always feature small plates. Why go through all of the trouble of planning a fine multi-course, sit-down dinner when most people would rather be visiting and popping small bites? That is why I love Martha Stewart’s Appetizers: 200 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Snacks, Small Plates, and Other Delicious Hors d’Oeuvres, Plus 30 Cocktails (Clarkson Potter, $27.50). This cookbook will help you plan a great small-bite party. It really has it all—from classic recipes like bacon wrapped figs to newer staples like spiced roasted chickpeas. And all of this from one of the most trusted names in entertaining! The recipes are simple and fresh. They will inspire you to have all your friends over for a night in. A night filled with snacks. I don’t think there is a better night than a night in that is filled with snacks.
In the preface to Eating Words (W.W. Norton, $35), Ruth Reichl says, “We are living in the golden age of food writing.” This spruce anthology, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Roger J. Porter, will confirm that assertion. It features the most inclusive selection of food writing that I have encountered. Of course (and thank goodness!) authors like Michael Pollan, Julia Child, and M.F.K. Fisher all make appearances here, but there are also selections from writers not typically identified with culinary literature. Wendell Berry talks to us about the pleasures of eating and connecting to the world. Seamus Heaney’s poem “Oysters” will evoke unexpected feelings for an invertebrate—think David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, which, as it happens, is also featured here. Erica Jong’s thoughts about the introspective onion will move you to tears. Whether you are new to food literature or are a frequent consumer, your hunger for food lit will be satisfied here.