The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones – I am really fond of reading books about food, chefs and cooking. Judith Jones is a self-taught cook and a long-time editor at Knopf who discovered Julia Child and helped make her a household name in America. In this memoir she talks about her culinary education, her love for France and French cooking and her experiences editing the cookbooks of some of our most famous chefs including Child, Marcella Hazan and Claudia Roden. Her understated and humble style is very appealing and the simple way she discusses food makes food appreciation an art.
My Life in France by Julia Child – I read this lovely book last summer for the Paris in July event and completely enjoyed it. Child is a cheerful and inspiring companion as she leads us through her adventurous life as the wife of a government employee in Paris and Marseilles. As you know, Child was no ordinary housewife – she threw herself into learning everything she could about French cuisine with incredible gusto. The cooking and food details in this memoir are fascinating, but I really loved it for the example of grit, enthusiasm and joyful living that Child embodies. She is inspiring to me.
Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett – I’ve never read any of Patchett’s fiction, but this chronicle of her friendship with poet Lucy Grealy is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Grealy got cancer when she was young and as a result her face was disfigured when part of her jaw had to be removed. As an adult she suffered from self-esteem problems, drug abuse and depression. Patchett remained her stalwart and loyal friend to the end, despite wanting to end their friendship several times. This is an intensely truthful look at a sustaining friendship between two remarkable women.
A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena di Blasi – Another book about a chef, this is also a riveting love story. di Blasi, a chef at a restaurant in St. Louis, travels to Venice for a trip and meets a surly Italian who falls in love with her. Before she even realizes what is happening she agrees to marry him and is soon living in Venice with a man who barely speaks English (and she doesn’t speak Italian) . This memoir details their rocky honeymoon phase and her growing admiration and passion for Italy and Italian food. di Blasi, like Child, has an enthuasiasm for life and her writing, as well as her philosophy of living, is motivating.
These are just a few of the memoirs I’ve loved. Do you have a favorite memoir?