Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Booking for the holiday

The Great American Feast is upon us. And for a lot of us this means not only a long-anticipated meal with family and friends, but also copious hours of travel and some jealously guarded quality downtime over the long weekend. What better way to while away time in-flight or pre-security check at an airport than to tote a good book? Ditto for your post-Turkey quiet hours. Here are three charming American food memoirs I recommend just for this purpose.

American Pie by Pascale Le Draoulec is a quirky combination travelogue, cookbook, love story and memoir. When Le Draoulec, a California journalist, receives a job offer in New York, she decides to drive to the east coast, instead of fly, and turn the journey into a culinary quest along the back roads of America in pursuit of good pie. She is an accomplished but very un-stuffy food writer. Her story is offbeat and fun.
The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schenone. The title alone made me want to read this one. Here’s another quixotic quest chronicle. But it’s not pie this time, but the Italian-American author’s great grandmother's homemade ravioli recipe. Schenone’s mission takes her into her family’s past, to Genoa, Italy—where people take ravioli very seriously—and back to her own home kitchen in New Jersey. A real family-and-food feast.
My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme. Yes, it’s set mostly in France. But there is no more important—or affably cheerful—influence on American cooking than the six-foot-two, clarinet-voiced TV kitchen celebrity, Julia Child. “My Life” is a lighthearted memoir begun by Child, who died in 2004, and finished by her grandnephew, Prud’homme. It recounts Child’s early years in France where her husband worked for the State Department. This one is a delightful armchair holiday for Francophiles, foodies, or anyone who enjoys a little whimsy with their joie de vivre.


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