by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Books

May 4 2012

Brooklyn’s Food Book Fair launches today

I was honored to give the keynote address to this weekend’s splendid Food Book Fair (for information, travel directions, and schedule, click here).

The Fair features the work of groups listed in the poster.  It encompasses an unusually broad vision of food studies in action.

The venue, the Wythe Hotel at 12th street in Brooklyn, is an architectural wonder and worth the trip on its own.  It’s just a short walk from the Bedford Street subway stop on the L line.

Check out the schedule.  Check out the terrific selection of books at the bookstore–all on food in its many dimensions.


May 3 2012

New and delightful books about food

Paul Kindstedt, Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and its Place in Western Civilization, Chelsea Green, 2012.
Kindstedt, a professor of food science at the University of Vermont and co-director of its Institute for Artisan Cheese, has organized his history by time period and region, from the Paleolithic origins of cheese to current attempts to regulate raw milk.  His material is well referenced and the book is full of facts and observations that will delight cheese lovers.

Seamus Mullen, Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better, Andrews McNeel, 2012.

I don’t usually blurb cookbooks but I couldn’t resist this one from Seamus  Mullen, the chef-owner of Tertulia in lower Manhattan.

This gorgeous book proves without a doubt the point I’ve been making for years: healthy food is delicious!  Take a look at what Seamus Mullen does with vegetables, fruit, grains and everything else he cooks.  I can’t wait to try his 10 Things to Do with Corn.  His food can’t guarantee health, but will surely make anyone happy!

Apr 19 2012

Books: thinking about food

Two thoughtful books about how to think about food:

Peter Kaminsky, Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (And Really Well), Knopf, 2012.

I blurbed this one:

Peter Kaminsky’s rules for taking pounds off and keeping them off are based on a really good idea: flavor per calorie.  That works for him and should make dieting a pleasure.

His chapter titles get the tone and flavor: The fundamentals of flavor, the elements of taste; the joy of cooking.  And he offers a practical guide to restaurant dining.  Most useful.  He’s a good writer and the book is fun to read.

Barb Stuckey, Taste: What You’re Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good, Free Press, 2012.

Stuckey is a professional food developer for whom understanding what makes for taste and flavor is essential.  This chatty and accessible book is a great introduction to how and what we taste, and why.  She ends it with a chapter on 15 ways to get more from every bite.  My favorite: “be adventurous, but patient.”

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Apr 9 2012

Three terrific books about feeding kids

Karen Le Billon, French Kids Eat Everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters, HarperCollins, 2012.

I blurbed this one: It takes a brave couple to move two picky-eater kids to a small French town and convert them to foodie omnivores.  North Americans have much to learn from European food traditions, and the contrast between French and North American school lunches is a striking example.  A must-read for teachers as well as parents.

Jeannie Marshall, Outside the Box: Why Our Children Need Real Food, Not Food Products, Random House, 2012.

I blurbed this one too: Outside the box is about teaching kids how to appreciate real food but also about how globalization is changing the way the world eats.  In this beautifully writeen book about what needs to be done to preserve food culture in Italy and elsewhere, Marshall makes the political personal as she explains how she is teaching her son to enjoy the pleasures of eating food prepared, cooked, and lovingly shared by friends and family.

Bill and Claire Wurtzel, Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts, Welcome Books, 2012.

I wasn’t asked to blurb this one, but like it anyway:  Your kid doesn’t want to eat real food for breakfast?  No excuses.  This book illustrates 365 breakfasts made of eggs, toast, cereal, pancakes, fruit, cheese, yogurt, and other good things.  These are presented as faces, animals, and toys so easy to do that even a time-challenged parent can whip them up in a second.  I can’t imagine any kid resisting eating foods like these.    Silly, absolutely.  Worth it?  Give it a try.


Mar 22 2012

New books: cereals and bread

Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis, The Great American Cereal Book, Abrams 2011.

I love cereal boxes, especially ones with egregious health claims, and I have a small collection dating back ten years or so.  I also, courtesy of Kellogg, have facsimiles of the complete set of Rice Krispies, All-Bran, and Froot Loops, dating back to the first year they were produced.   So I’m delighted to find this history of U.S. breakfast cereals, organized alphabetically by era starting in the 1860s, illustrated with pictures of each.  A encyclopedic nostalgia trip!

Aaron Bobrow-Strain, White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf, Beacon Press, 2012.

Bobrow-Strain organizes this books by dream categories: dreams of purity and contagion, control and abundance, health and discipline, strength and defense, peace and security, resistance and status.  White bread does all this?  Indeed it does in this story of how “white bread became white trash.”  He begins by asking, “Is this stuff even food?”  He ends with the whole wheat phenomenon and “yuppie bread.”  This is entertaining history and an example of food studies in action: using food to talk about important issues in history and contemporary society.


Aaron Bobrow-Strain, White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf, Beacon Press, 2012.



Mar 19 2012

New books on ways of eating, American and not

Jonathan Deutsch and Natalya Murakhver, editors, They Eat That?  A Cultural Encyclopedia of Weird and Exotic Food from around the World, ABC-CLIO, 2012.

The editors, both graduates of my NYU department, got their students, colleagues, and friends to write short essays about nearly 100 foods considered weird, at least by someone.  The list includes foods that are anything but weird in other cultures—seitan, durian, nettles, haggis, huitlaloche, vegemite, but also those hardly ever available to even the most serious eaters.  On that list I would put camel, cavy, iguana, and walrus flipper.  As for what I would eat, stinky cheese, yes.  Urine, no way.  The entries put the foods in cultural context and provide references.  Most come with recipes.  This book is fun.

Tracie McMillan, The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table, Scribner 2012.

McMillan followed the footsteps of Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and went to work at low wage jobs.  She has plenty to say about how hard it is to do them and how little they pay; she provides balance sheets to prove it.  Like Ehrenreich, she’s a good writer and her stories are compelling.  Eating well in America, she says, is difficult—bordering on impossible—for people who don’t have much money.

Mar 16 2012

New books on farming, urban and not

Atina Diffley, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

I blurbed this one, with much pleasure: “Turn Here Sweet Corn is an unexpected page-turner.  Atina Diffley’s compelling account of her life as a Minnesota organic farmer is deeply moving not only from a personal standpoint but also from the political.  Diffley reveals the evident difficulties of small-scale organic farming but is inspirational about its value to people and the planet.”  The book comes with an insert of glorious photographs illustrating the history she recounts.  The political?  The Diffley’s fought to keep an oil company from running a pipeline through their property—and won.

David Hanson and Edwin Marty, Breaking Through Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival, University of California Press, 2012.

Wonderfully photographed visits to a dozen urban farms all over America from Seattle (P-Patch) to Brooklyn’s own Annie Novak’s Eagle Street.  The authors asked hard questions and got honest answers.  This is a great resource for anyone who wants to get started, and the beautiful farms and farmers are well worth a look.

Jennifer Cockrall-King, Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution, Prometheus Books, 2012.

Cockrall-King went international.  She visited cities in the U.S., England, France, Canada, and Cuba to see what urban farmers were doing to create alternative food systems.  They are doing plenty.  This looks like a great excuse for ecotourism, dropping by, seeing for yourself, and getting to work.

Mar 14 2012

New books: the farm bill and farming

It’s spring and the books about food and farms are flooding in.  I’ll start with these.

Daniel Imhoff, Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill, Watershed Media, 2012.

Michael Pollan and Fred Kirschnmann introduce this new, gorgeously illustrated edition of Imhoff’s lucid explanation of the farm bill and the vast number of issues it covers.  I’m not aware of anything else that comes close to explaining this most obscure and obfuscated piece of legislation.   Congress is fussing with the bill right now.  If you want to understand what your elected officials are fussing about, start here.  I will use this book in my NYU classes and will borrow the stunning illustrations for talks.

Jim VanDerPol, Conversations with the Land, No Bull Press, 2012.

This is a book of personal reflections on farms, farming, and farmers.  VanDerPol talks about the weather, people and communities, and better ways to produce food and to live.  From his base in Minnesota, he gives his thoughts  about the way agriculture has changed and what can be done to make it better.