My Christmas Reading Wishlist

I like reading about food almost as much as I enjoy eating food. Food is more than a mere necessity for living, but a lifestyle in itself. I fervently believe that, even more than religion, food and drink has been the backbone of any culture and civilization, and I challenge anyone to disprove this. That said, I now present my Christmas wishlist of books about food, drink, eating, and everything else surrounding it. I’ve categorized these as follows: (1) Beer Culture and Appreciation, (2) Food and History, (3) “Celebrity” Food Lit, and (4)  Omnivore Apologists. With the exception of the first two, all the books are available here in the Philippines. Hopefully I can gift myself one or two of these over the holidays, then read and write about them.

On Beer Culture and Appreciation:
Just as there is more to beer than watery yellow lagers, there is more to beer culture and appreciation than shotgunning, beer bongs and beer pong. Here are some books that I find interesting and would definitely want to get my hands on someday:

The Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver
The definitive guide to beer by Brooklyn Brewery’s own brewmaster, and one of the most prominent authorities on beer alive. Obviously, Michael Jackson is in the same stratosphere, but he has already passed away. If you think I’m referring to the King of Pop, please leave this page immediately. While I’m at it, I would also complete the Oxford Companion trifecta of Beer, Food and Wine
The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver
Again, a definitive guide by Garrett Oliver. This one predated the Oxford Companion by a few years, and discusses the basics of pairing beer and food. There are those who regale beer as being even better than wine when it comes to pairing because of the former’s versatility. I’m just getting into learning how to pair beer and food, and this tome would be quite instructive in that regard.
The Naked Pint by Christina Perozzi and Hallie BeauneA look at the American craft beer industry, beer culture and everything else there is from the point of view of two women craft beer brewers and drinkers. Beer has long been regarded as solely a man’s drink, and I think what these two knowledgeable women have to say would be a very interesting and original take.
Brewed Awakening by Joshua M. Bernstein
This is more of a history of the craft beer revolution in the States. The back cover has rave reviews from craft brewing celebrities like Greg Koch of Stone and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. Of course, the book is essentially about them, so I’m sure they would recommend it.Food and History:
Food shapes history. No questions about it. I’ve always wanted to read those books which discuss that connection, and here are a couple:
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
Man does not live on bread alone. A little bit of salt goes a long way. It preserves, it gives flavor, it brings out flavor, it draws out liquid. Salt plays a lot of roles with regard to food, and has done so for centuries. I’d definitely want to read up on this.
A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
Again, man does not live on bread alone. A bit of drink to wash the food down is always appreciated, and has been since time immemorial.“Celebrity” Food Lit:
Yes, some people just write about food for a living, get paid, and get famous. Theirs is the life I envy the most.
It Must’ve Been Something I Ate by  Jeffrey Steingarten
He is probably the most knowledgeable man who ever lived when it comes to food. Former lawyer, Vogue magazine columnist and now Iron Chef Guest Judge Jeffrey Steingarten has traveled the world, eating, drinking, and writing. Not a bad career path, if you ask me. And I just love his witty prose.
Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
The culinary bad boy. Kitchen Confidential was a fun look into the restaurant industry. And I like how both brash and humble Anthony Bourdain is. His TV shows can get boring sometimes, but his writing is hardly ever dull. He is the primary example of a celebrity chef, and the best part is, he realizes and acknowledges it, and most probably hates himself a little for it, if not a lot.
The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher
She should be considered a classic author, and one of the first real celebrated food writers. I haven’t read any of her work, and if I have to start, I might as well go with this, which is probably her magnum opus.




Omnivore Apologists:
Going back to Anthony Bourdain, he once said that vegetarianism is a first-world luxury. I believe in eating healthy (but don’t always practice this), and I believe that animals also have rights. I also believe however, that omnivorism is naturally-occuring in humans (contrary to what one of my professors believes). The middle ground, I believe is to respect the animals that provide food. Treat them well, and make use of every part of it. That’s how food was traditionally prepared anyway.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
I haven’t read Everything is Illuminated, nor have I seen the film. But with a title like this, I just have to go for it. It’s non-fiction though, and not really a novel.
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and it is just a fascinating, well researched piece of work. I can’t wait to read what else Michael Pollan has to say.

Fergus Henderson: Beyond Nose to Tail

Respect your food by eating every possible part of the animal that provided it. This is the only cookbook in this list, but it is much more than that, as it is also a commentary on the nose-to-tail or whole-hog movement in fine dining which British chef Fergus Henderson himself is perhaps the primary proponent of.

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