Books for Foodies—May 11, 2012
Foodies like me who read cookbooks like novels, as much from an armchair as from the kitchen counter, will enjoy the library’s latest food books even though they don’t contain a single recipe. These books are written by investigative food authors who dig deep into the history of popular foods and come up with information about their political, cultural and economic impact. If that sounds just a little ho hum, let me assure you that these books are far from boring. They’re every bit the whodunnit, filled with twists and turns that keep the reading lively and the pages turning.
Peeling back truths about the banana and its shockingly endangered future, award-winning author Dan Koeppel takes us from jungle to supermarket; from corporate boardrooms to kitchen tables around the world. “Banana, the Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World” is a fascinating exploration of the world’s most beloved fruit, consumed in greater quantities than apples and oranges combined.
Beginning with biblical translations indicating that Eve’s “apple” was actually a banana, Koeppel then flashes forward to 20th-century Central America, documenting the rise and fall of aptly-named “banana republics” at the hands of American industry - companies now known and Chiquita and Dole. Finally, in a startling investigation, it’s revealed that scientists race to find a cure for a blight that’s striking plantations worldwide.
“New Yorker” writer, Tom Mueller, has created a riveting tale about an age-old staple, olive oil. “Extra Virginity, the Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil” is a sharply-written, fascinating expose. Mueller unveils the cherished oil’s sacred history and exposes disturbing corruption and product shortfalls. It’s interesting to meet hardworking artisan producers who struggle to conserve ancient, local traditions in the face of an increasingly globalized marketplace. And it’s fun to learn something new - did you know that oil made from different olive varieties or from the same varieties grown in different places, can be every bit as diverse as wines whose flavor depends on the type and location of grapes?
Chocoholics are responsible for the consumption of a million tons of chocolate annually. “The Chocolate Tree” by Allen M. Young chronicles the natural and cultural history of the cacao and explores its ecological niche. Young did his homework on this topic, uncovering a long history of agricultural manipulation. Readers will come away from this book with an appreciation of the cacao plant and the environment that helps it thrive.
With a good head on his shoulders and in his glass, Joshua M. Bernstein has created what is being called the ultimate beer geek’s guide. “Brewed Awakening” follows every trend in craft brewing today - extra flavor, extra alcohol, extra everything. . .and everywhere from breweries in Nebraska to New Zealand.
Learn about the fruit of trouble, immortality and temptation in “Apples” by Frank Browning.
“Tomatoland” will change the way you think about fruit called Beefsteak, Early Girl, Roma and more, and give new insight into the way America farms. Read it before your next BLT! By the way, Eastabrook lives and grows his own tomatoes in his garden in Vermont.
Devour a good food book from Hastings Public Library.