Looking over my bookshelf I notice a trend. Since our move almost three years ago it seems that the majority of the books I purchase are food related. Some are direct meditations of the role of food in our lives, like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life and some are guilty little pleasure reads where food reveals the emotions that characters cannot, like Kate Jacobs’ Comfort Food. There are also anthologies of food writing like The New Yorker’s Secret Ingredients. My favorite has become the yearly collection edited by Holly Hughes.
During the holiday break I picked up the latest Best Food Writing 2009. Like last year, Holly reveals how in sync she is with contemporary food issues by pairing writers from the established food world next to fresh voices from the blogosphere. I have been tearing through this year’s collection and enjoying every moment of it. What makes it so fun is how varied the stories are. Monica Eng’s essay “Morality Bites” chronicles her attempt to come to terms with her omnivore lifestyle by witnessing the slaughter of the animals she eats. Hugh Garvey takes us Tokyo where the preparation and consumption of classic cocktails is a near-religious experience. The essays are short which makes it a perfect book to pick up when you can only give a few moments of a busy day to reading. I look forward to this collection each year and believe this year’s collection is one of the best.
Like many, I have made a New Year’s resolution to eat more sensibly and thoughtfully. I feel guilty if I chow down on a big plate of chocolate chip cookies, but I don’t feel guilty if I read about the perfect chocolate chip cookie.