It seems like I have drifted towards books about food a lot lately – or more specifically about the food industry. Here are a few that I read and enjoyed:
Gordan Ramsay: The Biography
Over the years I’ve become really interested in this celebrity chef. Of course, I was introduced to him first through Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares and also quickly started following him on MasterChef. At first this was just reality TV to pass the time while multi-tasking other things. However, as time went on and more about his personality was revealed I became intrigued by the many behind this stardom. I’ve since watched many of his different shows, both American and UK, including a recent UK show where he set up a cooking program in a prison.
The prison program was what really got me especially interested in him. He reveals here that his brother was in and out of prison because of drugs. And you can see in the show that despite all of his success in both restaurants and TV over the years he was extremely nervous that this program wouldn’t work out, which is always inspiring to see because we think of celebrities as not having those fears when of course they do.
So anyway, I wanted to learn a little bit more about him and that was what prompted me to read this biography. I thought it was a good overview of his life. It was published a few years ago so the most recent information isn’t in there but it does a good job in general of showing how this guy went from being kid in a troubled home to a star athlete to a top chef to a TV star. It shares some of his personal life with his original family as well as his married life. Basically it’s just about the man behind the food shows. So while it’s not exactly about food, it’s a good book from the food industry and one that I thought was an interesting read. I’d now like to read some of the books he’s actually authored himself.
I love reading niche topic books and was super interested in The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy. Basically this is just a book about the history of sushi. It shares how sushi became so popular in recent times. But what I really like is that it gives a lot of insight into how sushi goes from tuna in the ocean to a delicacy on a plate through sharing the personal stories of individual people along the way in that process, such as the buyers of fish at auctions. By putting faces to the process it makes it really easy to understand the in-depth and detailed economics and culture of the sushi history. Fascinating.
I do have to say that it made me disinterested in eating sushi, though. This is probably just me. I used to be vegetarian and I still have a lot of mental issues when it comes to the thought of eating animals. It just grosses me out and seafood grosses me out most of all. The detailed descriptions of how the fish gets shipped and handled really turned me off personally, although they aren’t so gory that I think others would be likely to have this reaction. I should add that I actually don’t really like sushi and always end up with California Rolls anyway since none of the raw fish tastes good to me so it’s not as if I was a huge fan and the book turned me away from that. It just reiterated how I already felt but gave me much more appreciation into the food and industry as a whole.
This is a book about waiting tables. It is really insightful about the whole experience of being a 30-something waiter in New York, collecting experiences and stories and money while passing the time until eventually a writing career develops out of it all. You can read here why I think this is a great book about writing, in addition to one about the restaurant life.
Next up on my reading list of books related to food is Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil. I’m a huge fan of olive oil and look forward to learning more about it through this book!