We love to devour a good book, and so do the editors at XOXO After Dark! They've rounded up a tasty selection of fiction and nonfiction for you to sample, all about the pleasures of food. Use one of these as inspiration for your next dinner party, and you'll be well-read and well-fed! (And for even more food for thought, check out XOXO After Dark.)
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel Food and rampant emotion are melded together in this magical realist romance in which each of the twelve sections begin with a Mexican recipe, all of which are cleverly incorporated into the plot of the book itself.
Margarita Wednesdays by Deborah Rodriguez Forced out of a life in Afghanistan, Debbie Rodriguez recounts her subsequent jump to Mazatlán, Mexico. Trading coffee for margaritas by the warm blue waters, and her ex-boyfriend for new friends and a new lover, the tale is as vivid as the new culture Debbie learns to embrace.
Babette's Feast by Isak Dinesen This novella focuses on the impact of a single meal--stuffed quails in puff pastry, turtle soup, Veuve Cliquot, baba au rhum--on a small Lutheran Danish village. A contrast in decadence and asceticism, the sensuality of French cooking weaves into a tale of love and respect between a refugee and the community that takes her in.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris The trials and triumphs of chocolatier Vianne Rocher unfold in prose as sweet as the described French confections. It doesn't hurt to keep in mind that the main love interest is played by the swoon-worthy Johnny Depp in the eponymous movie adaption.
Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin Delicious vegan food and a scrumptious love interest? It's just too bad for Clem, a vegan aspiring entrepreneur, that the beautiful Zach Jeffries is a carnivorous restaurateur...who hates tofu.
Extra Virgin by Rachel Knowles Think Under the Tuscan Sun, but with a fictional 23-year old New Zealander as the protagonist who stumbles upon romance, friendship, fame and of course, fantastic cuisine -- all in the lesser-known Western neighbor of Tuscany, Liguria.
The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel Hope's French-born grandmother Mamie sends Hope on a journey through Parisian bakeries, armed with nothing but a list of names in order to uncover details of Mamie's tragic past before Mamie's Alzheimer's wipes away any memory of two lovers torn apart, desperate survival, and all of her recipes...
My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki Hailed as a cross between Upton Sinclair and Margaret Atwood, this provocative novel follows two wives, Japanese and Japanese-American, as they look behind the modern meat industry, media, cultural differences, motherhood, and love.
My Life in France by Julia Child In her autobiography, Julia opens up about the creation of a culinary mogul; arriving in France without a word of French, delving slowly into the local markets, taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, rejections from publishers, and throughout it all, a tender fifty-year long marriage.
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell Julia Child's iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking swoops in to pull this former secretary, close to thirty and mired in a dead-end job, out of her rut, inspiring her to attempt all 524 recipes in only 365 days with the support of her loving husband and a whole lot of butter.
Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl In prose as warm as a candle-lit dinner with a friend, Ruth describes life as globe-trotting chef-turned-restaurant critic, with stories of cooking and dining with famous chefs in addition to a few of her favorite recipes.
The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry Imagine if you could speak to the ghosts of your family by cooking their recipes.... this novel is less horror than a tale of family secrets, seeking comfort in cooking, and coming to terms with oneself.
Angelina's Bachelors by Brian O'Reilly After the sudden death of her husband, amateur chef Angelina finds new meaning to life in preparing food for her seven of her bachelor neighbors; first the elderly Basil, then Johnny from across the street, the elderly Don Eddie, Mr. Pettibone, Big Phil, Jerry, and Basil's handsome nephew, Guy.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert A global romp, this memoir allows for vicarious living as Elizabeth runs from the banality of daily life towards unbridled hedonism tempered with a touch of spirituality.
The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe The bold, brash flavors of Macau are brought out in this novel about a middle-aged American expatriate coming to terms with her failing marriage and infertility by starting a macaron parlor and meeting the unique denizens of the city (Including an attractive French chef.)
Heartburn by Nora Ephron This semi-autobiographical book dishes up the effect of discovering a husband's infidelity upon cook-book writer Rachel Samstat with acerbic wit and comforting recipes.