If you’re a foodie, the obsession runs deep. (I once had an editor who forbade use of the word foodie, but is there a better way to describe the type?) You love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, and dining out—from Michelin-starred restaurants to humble food trucks—is nearly a full-time job. You subscribe to the food magazines—Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Saveur—and you binge-watch Top Chef and The Bear. You could fill a library with the many books that address culinary topics from every conceivable angle. This fall brings a splendid five-course meal of nonfiction titles; here’s what’s on the menu:
The Meth Lunches: Food and Longing in an American City by Kim Foster (St. Martin’s, Oct. 10): In this debut, a James Beard Award winner describes how, after moving to Las Vegas, she prepared daily lunches for her meth-addicted handyman and ultimately came to open a food pantry, all the while examining the role food plays in the lives of the underprivileged. Our reviewer calls it a “mournful exploration of the connections between food and community.”
Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant: A Memoir by Curtis Chin (Little, Brown; Oct. 17): This memoir recounts the coming-of-age in 1980s Detroit of a first-generation Chinese American, gay man, and poet who went on to co-found the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Chin worked alongside his parents at their family restaurant, Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine, where they served a cross-section of diners, from neighborhood sex workers to the city’s mayor. Our reviewer calls it a “charming, often funny account of a sentimental education.”
The Dish: The Lives and Labor Behind One Plate of Food by Andrew Friedman (Mariner Books, Oct. 17): A writer and podcaster goes behind the scenes to chronicle the production of one dish at Wherewithall, an acclaimed Chicago restaurant that has since closed. Friedman looks at every step of the process, from farm and vineyard to transport to the kitchen and front of house, talking to all the workers involved. Our reviewer calls it an “entertaining, eye-opening investigation.”
The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating & Eating While Reading by Dwight Garner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct. 24): Food and books are the paired pleasures of this New York Times critic, and in a wide-ranging book he charts their intersections in his own life and in the lives of authors from Rita Dove to Frank Conroy to Mario Puzo. Our reviewer calls it a “wonderful mix of culinary memoir, literary reference, how-to in indulgence.”
Endangered Eating: America’s Vanishing Foods by Sarah Lohman (Norton, Oct. 24): Employing the Ark of Taste, an online catalog, as her guide, the author travels the U.S. to learn more about the production, preparation, and preservation of endangered heritage foods in the age of agribusiness. Readers will learn about rare types of New England apples, Texas Longhorn cattle, traditional reefnet salmon fishing of Indigenous tribes in the Pacific Northwest, and much more. Our reviewer calls it a “tasty sojourn through the landscape of America’s endangered foods.”
Tom Beer is the editor-in-chief.