Nonfiction: Food and Cooking
Discover new recipes and gain insight into how food is produced, harvested, and distributed.
Turn up the heat with these books on food and cooking by contributors to Alta Journal. In this category, featured in a special guide in our Fall 2021 issue, is a work by Mark Bittman and a spotlight on Alice Waters.
Mark Bittman considers a new perspective on the history of humanity: instead of focusing on evolving technologies or changing economies, he thinks about the way food has fueled some of the most catastrophic events in history, such as slavery, genocide, war, and colonialism. Bittman offers a robust critique of how these legacies underpin today’s Big Food moment and help spoil the environment. Animal, Vegetable, Junk will compel readers to redefine their relationships to food and its production. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, February 2021, 384 pages, $28 hardcover
Chef David Kinch gained renown for his innovative reimagining of California cuisine at his three-Michelin-star restaurant, Manresa, in Los Gatos. Yet in his latest cookbook, the culinary artist gets personal, sharing more than 120 recipes that he prepares—when off the clock—for his family and friends. At Home in the Kitchen is an invitation into Kinch’s home and a celebration of everyday meals. Recipes are accompanied by playlists to enjoy while cooking and drink pairings to go with the finished dishes. Ten Speed Press, March 2021, 304 pages, $35 hardcover
Everyone knows coffee is addictive, but how many are familiar with its origins, its effects on creativity, or how it can shape people’s perceptions of themselves and others? In the latest installment of Object Lessons, a series about the “hidden lives of ordinary things,” Dinah Lenney investigates the psychological, emotional, and cultural impacts coffee has had on society while using her relationship with the drink to navigate the intricacies of her own life. Bloomsbury Academic, April 2020, 192 pages, $14.95 paperback
Why do big-city liberals reject GMO foods while conservative evangelicals, who oppose theories of evolution, accept them? In American Harvest, this simple question drives Marie Mutsuki Mockett to travel with a team of wheat harvesters from Texas to Idaho to learn about the widening gulf between urban and rural Americans. Although Mockett’s family owns 7,000 acres of farmland in the Midwest, owing to her upbringing in California and education in New York City, she feels like a foreigner among the laborers. Mockett questions whether the gap between these two Americas can be bridged. Graywolf Press, April 2020, 408 pages, $28 hardcover
What do garlicky chicken wings, John Legend, and traditional Thai soups have in common? They’re all featured in The Pepper Thai Cookbook by Pepper Teigen, mother of model Chrissy Teigen. Detailing the meals Pepper cooked in Thailand, childhood snacks she prepared for Chrissy, and what the famous family continues to eat today, the cookbook, cowritten with Garrett Snyder, dips into biography as Pepper shares the history and inspiration behind many of her dishes. Clarkson Potter, April 2021, 256 pages, $29.99 hardcover