January 20-29 is Restaurant Week in Kansas City, a time when area foodies line up to taste off-menu offerings at dozens of local eateries. We’ve rounded up recent culinary memoirs that have arrived at a Kansas City Public Library near you.
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks
After persuading a stranger in a grocery store to swap her cartful of ultra-processed foods for fresher stuff, recent Le Cordon Bleu grad Kathleen Flinn began a crusade to teach nine women from different backgrounds the basics of simple, healthy cooking. The reality-TV-esque narrative interweaves 20 recipes.
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
Winner of the 2011 Best Chef in NYC award from the James Beard Foundation, Gabrielle Hamilton put in decades of sweat and self-education before ascending to the top of the restaurant world at her East Village hotspot Prune. This memoir tells her life story, from the rural kitchen of her childhood through international wanderings and thankless gigs in catering. Fun fact: Hamilton got her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan; a classmate of hers was Paris Wife author Paula McLain.
Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen
During the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79, Donia Bijan and her family fled from Iran to the Bay Area, where food became not only a link to home but a form of familial communication. Bijan attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and apprenticed in 3-star restaurants before returning to San Francisco to open her own restaurant. Her engaging memoir includes 30 recipes.
Stirring It Up with Molly Ivins: A Memoir with Recipes
Best known as an outspoken civil libertarian and uncompromising wit who referred to Rick Perry as “Governor Goodhair,” late Texas humorist Molly Ivins was also an accomplished chef. Her longtime friend and fellow reporter Ellen Sweets remembers Molly, who died in 2007, in this book of humorous recollections and Ivins’ own recipes.
Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
As a journalist in the war-torn cities of Beirut and Baghdad in the early 2000s, Annia Ciezadlo sought to understand the chaotic world around her through the unifying force of food. In her debut, she combines Middle Eastern culinary history with on-the-ground travelogue writing, and, yes, recipes.
Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris
After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, Lauren Shockey honed her skills as a stagiare (unpaid intern) in restaurants in four different countries. In this delightfully brazen travelogue, the Village Voice writer recounts eating dog in Vietnam, fixing gnocchi in Israel, and encountering celebrated chefs and hole-in-the-wall masters around the world. Recipes? You bet.
About the Author
Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.