It's that time of our virtual book club's cycle when we unveil the next four selections, books selected by the co-hosts to (hopefully) delight and inspire you. Ready? Let's go!
In the vein of the classic 84, Charing Cross Road, this witty and tender novel follows two women in 1960s America as they discover that food really does connect us all, and that friendship and laughter are the best medicine.When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter—as well as a gift of saffron—to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic--exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.Food and a good life—they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship—a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other. A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache and that human connection will always be worth creating.
With inspiration like Creamy risotto alla Milanese. Mussels in a hot, buttery broth. Chicken spiced with cinnamon and cloves. Joan Bergstrom and Imogen Fortier understand the key to a savored life—delicious food.
Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
At the outset of Miller's endearing debut, 32-year-old pastry chef Olivia Rawlings loses her job after she drops a tray of baked Alaska and starts a fire at the prestigious Boston club where she works. In need of comfort, she heads to Guthrie, Vt., to visit her best friend, Hannah Doyle, who lands her a job at the nearby Sugar Maple, a picturesque inn owned by the stern yet protective Margaret Hurley. As Olivia adjusts to her new life, her growing attachment to Margaret's friends, the McCrackens-especially Martin, the fiddle-playing son-prompts her return to banjo and folk music. But even as she settles in and joins a contra dance band, she struggles to navigate the secrets, gossip, and long-held animosities that animate the town.
Miller, a pastry chef herself, writes about food with vivid detail, but her rhythmic prose is even crisper when her interests converge: "From the stage you could see the lattice pattern the dances made, the couples weaving in and out like fluted strips of piecrust." Miller also excels at characterization, revealing her protagonist's complex pasts in subtle ways. Even minor characters such as Alfred, Olivia's coworker at the Sugar Maple, and Henry, the ailing McCracken patriarch, are sharply drawn and memorable. Throughout, the novel's empathetic spirit and unhurried pace allow it to grapple with grief, family, and belonging, while keeping the focus on Olivia's difficult decisions.
Claudia, Honey From Rock
When most people say they have an unhealthy relationship with food, they mean they eat too much of it or too little. When I say I have an unhealthy relationship with food, I mean it’s what gives my life meaning. That’s a really dumb way to live your life, as the stories in this book will attest to.
I have never heard of Ahdoot, but apparently he is mildly famous. Besides being a comic headliner, he is a frequent guest on The Tonight Show, and is currently acting on Netflix’s Cobra Kai. Ahdoot also hosted Food Network’s Raid the Fridge.
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In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions.
A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a graphic novel for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the earth, rather than an enemy, a compulsion, or a consumer product.