Three Foodie Books to Read in 2023

Although this site is predominantly for health teachers seeking to share ideas and learn from each other, I occasionally feature blog posts on different topics, with book recommendations being one of them. This review of my favorite health text remains popular, I have featured books from people I know personally, my annual #summerreads posts are fun to share, and of course, the monthly Book of the Month selections are good to explore when looking for reading inspiration.

Those that know me know I am a huge foodie who collects cookbooks and loves to try new foods from different cultures. I’m looking forward to the imminent break from school so I can take a deep dive into my book collection and be inspired to try out new recipes. Plus, any chance to try out my new Ninja Foodi is a bonus.

While my list of ‘must-read’ books continues to grow there are three foodie books that are at the top of my list to read in 2023.

California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival by Keith Corbin

This memoir from Keith Corbin sounds AMAZING. Born in 1980s Watts, Los Angeles, notorious for gang activity, he started cooking crack at age thirteen, becoming so skilled that he was flown across the country to cook for drug operations in other cities. Unfortunately, this lifestyle soon caught up with him. It led to years in California’s most notorious maximum security prisons—witnessing the resourcefulness of other inmates who made kimchi out of leftover vegetables and tamales from ground-up Fritos.

After his release, Corbin managed the kitchen at LocoL, a fast food restaurant spearheaded by celebrity chefs, designed to bring inexpensive, quality food and good jobs into underserved neighborhoods. With the increased attention that this success brought him, Corbin has used his story to move onwards and upwards, sharing that journey in California Soul.

The book promises to take readers into the worlds of gang hierarchy, drug dealing, prison politics, gentrification, and culinary achievement to tell how Keith Corbin became head chef of Alta Adams, one of America’s best restaurants.

Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them by Dan Saladino

My 70-minute commute in the morning is filled with audiobook and podcast listening, and the BBC Food program is one of those. Food journalist Dan Saladino is a regular contributor to the BBC podcast, and his new book promises to be a fascinating read. Eating to extinction leads us on a pathbreaking tour of the world’s vanishing foods and Saladino’s argument for why they matter now more than ever. I’ve become much more environmentally conscious and aware of the foods I eat and their impact on myself, my community, and a more global level. In this book, the author travels the world to experience and document our most at-risk foods before it’s too late. He tells the fascinating stories of the people who continue to cultivate, forage, hunt, cook, and consume what the rest of us have forgotten or didn’t even know existed.

The book is over 370 pages long, so I can see it being a slow burn, sitting on my bedside table for me to return to over the coming months. However, I look forward to reading about Saladino’s answer to the question, “Are we eating ourselves to extinction?

Edible Economics: A Hungry Economist Explains the World by Ha-Joon Chang

This book was selected as one of the BBC Food Programme’s books of the year, and it’s a foodie book that might encourage me to expand my view of food. In Edible Economics, Ha-Joon Chang makes challenging economic ideas palatable by plating them alongside stories about food from around the world. To explore economic theory, he uses histories behind everyday food items – where they come from, how they are cooked and consumed, and what they mean to different cultures.

“Myth-busting, witty, and thought-provoking, Edible Economics shows that getting to grips with the economy is like learning a recipe: if we understand it, we can change it – and, with it, the world.”

I love David Pilling‘s review: “Ha-Joon Chang has done it again. His prose delights and nourishes in equal measure. Somehow he manages to smuggle an urgent discussion of the relevance of economics to our daily lives into stories about food and cooking that are charming, funny and sweet (but never sour). In taking on the economic establishment, Chang is like a teddy bear savaging a rottweiler.”

I can’t believe I wrote a blog post about foodie books and didn’t include an actual cookbook with recipes! But, never fear, I have a list of recipe books on my ‘to-buy’ list too, and the next cookbook I’ll be buying will be Home, the Sunday Times bestseller from YouTube sensation Big Has, AKA Hasan Semay. Hailing from my hometown of Edmonton, London, Big Has reminds me of an early Jamie Oliver. Grounded and honest (and a little bit sweary), I can’t help but get homesick when I watch his YouTube videos.

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