Two of my biggest joys in life are cooking and reading, so it's only natural that I absolutely love the memoirs of people whose lives have been shaped by a passion for food. I figured it was time I compiled a list of my favorite memoirs that every food lover needs to read. Each of these four books intertwines a candid, often humorous, occasionally poignant account of the author's life as well as distinctive recipes that provide a strong sense of personality and place. 

On Rue Tatin

My mom gave me On Rue Tatin right before I started college, and the beautiful prose, lovely stories, and overall sense of coziness did wonders to assuage my homesickness in the first couple weeks of school. In this memoir, author Susan Loomis recounts her experiences eating and adventuring through France and thereby tells a beautiful tale of building a family, creating a home, and crafting delicious food. The picturesque snapshots that Loomis captures in her writing are absolutely delightful, and they make me yearn to picnic on baguette and cheese in the French countryside.

A Homemade Life

A Homemade Life was the first food memoir that I ever read, and it is the one that caused me to fall in love with the genre. Already a listener of Wizenberg's podcast, I was eager for more of her spirited personality and contagious humor. Despite my familiarity with her work, however, I was still surprised and delighted by the reflective, deeply personal story that spills out of the pages of A Homemade Life. Wizenberg's exquisite writing and simple recipes make this book one that you will return to time and time again, whenever you need a bit of literary comfort or a plate of comfort food.

Blood, Bones, and Butter

The first scene of Blood, Bones and Butter paints a picture of the raucous, spirited cookout that Hamilton's family threw each summer of her childhood at their home in rural Pennsylvania. This idyllic scene doesn't last long, however, and readers are quickly plunged into the darker years of Hamilton's youth in which she learned to fend for herself in restaurant kitchens, struggling to keep up with coworkers twice her age. Even as she rises through the ranks and finds her footing in the restaurant industry,  Hamilton's personal life never really gets easier. Though this book certainly isn't a light, uplifting read, I appreciate the way Hamilton mixes moments of joy and beauty into this account of her complex, difficult life.

Tender at the Bone

Chef, food writer and former editor in chief of Gourmet magazine Ruth Reichl traces her love of food back to her childhood in 1960s New York. Though her early food experiences were characterized by her mother, Reichl soon grew into a talented cook in her own right. In Tender at the Bone, she uses food as the focal point to unite her fascinating, varied life experiences into one thoughtful and entertaining narrative. 

If you have an interest in cooking or reading, and have not yet explored the delightful world of food memoirs, any and all of these books would be a great way to get started! Armed with these four memoirs, you can journey to rural Pennsylvania, the French countryside, a commune in Berkeley, or a Seattle farmer's market all from the comfort of your couch. Even better, once you finish the books you can test out the recipes for yourself to truly complete the experience.