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Hungry for a good read?

Unless you’ve had your nose too deep in a good book, by now you’ve likely heard that March is recognized as National Reading Month. While a little late in the month, I thought this would be a good opportunity to share a few of my favorite food-related books.

“Salt Fat Acid Heat” by Samin Nosrat

Of all the books on my shelf, this is the one I recommend most frequently. The premise of Nosrat’s book is that by mastering the four elements of cooking — salt, fat, acid and heat — everything you cook will be delicious. It’s balanced like a good meal should be, teaches you to trust your intuition in the kitchen and injects joy in the process of cooking quality food. Another thing I really enjoy about this book is that it’s beautifully illustrated (as opposed to containing photography), allowing you to be imaginative with the final product and not be let down when it doesn’t turn out to be picture perfect. Bonus: this was recently made into a Netflix series!

“BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts” by Stella Parks

From cookies, cakes and pies to pudding, candy and ice cream, this book is chock full of great classic American desserts that will transport you back to grandma’s kitchen. Parks puts her own twist on our country’s most memorable and recognizable sweet treats while honoring their origins. Each recipe includes a thoughtful synopsis of its history and evolution through time, making for an interesting read whether you’re in the mood for baking or not.

“Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” by Michael Pollan

Food Rules should be required reading. It simply and concisely answers the question that’s been debated for all of eternity: “What should we eat?” An overload of conflicting information and recommendations, fad diets and colorful advertisements served to us everywhere we go makes understanding nutrition seemingly impossible. In Food Rules, Pollan writes, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” These three uncomplicated notions tell you pretty much all you need to know to live healthfully through your diet. This short read is a great “pocket guide” to eating well and is a great introduction to the world of Michael Pollan, a renowned author/journalist/activist in the world of food.

“The Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China” by Fuchsia Dunlop

Everything about this book is absolutely stunning — the writing, the photography, and Dunlop’s expertise and passion for this region referred to as the “culinary heart of China.” It’s inspiring, deeply authentic and challenging. While some of the ingredients called for aren’t easily accessible outside of the Jiangnan region, the author made a point to include recipes with produce that can be found mostly anywhere. Recipes without suggested modifications serve as a good lesson in creativity. Try not to be put off by unfamiliar ingredients — it can be a fun challenge to track down hard-to-find items and making thoughtful adjustments can yield great results.

“Cheers to The Publican, Repast and Present” by Paul Kahan and Cosmo Goss with Rachel Holtzman

While living in Chicago, my husband and I were dedicated to eating our way through the city, with a pledge to not eat anywhere twice. Well, we broke that “rule” for dinner at The Publican. This book explains why. When you walk through the doors of The Publican, the casual atmosphere — the smells, the large wooden family-style tables, the patrons sharing stories and food while sipping on steins filled with sour beer — makes you feel at home. It’s rugged and casual and genuine, just like the pages of this book that are filled with what the authors refer to as “life’s simple pleasures.” If you enjoy pork, beer, oysters and brilliantly prepared vegetables, this is the book for you.

“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart

This book is fascinating and informative, blending botany, chemistry, history and booze into the perfectly balanced cocktail for your reading pleasure. The level of research Stewart put into this book shows her dedication to the subject. It’s very thorough, containing information on the plants used to create different alcohols, the process of fermentation and distillation, tips for growing your own ingredients, and recipes to transform them into delicious drinks. This book is perfect for the curious and will encourage you to stray from your usual drink of choice next time you choose to imbibe.

“Matty Matheson, A Cookbook” by Matty Matheson

What I love most about food is the way that it connects people. In this book, Matheson, a Canadian chef and millennial internet sensation, shares how food and the people who taught him how to prepare it have shaped his life. In his intro, Matheson writes, “Food is one of the rare true experiences in this world. Food cannot lie: Either it tastes good or it doesn’t.” This book is full of mouthwatering recipes that truly represent his experiences in life; from “Mom’s Cheesy Things” and his Bologna Bowl to more sophisticated dishes from his restaurant days like Snails on Toast and Grilled Quail with Vegetable Succotash. It’s well-rounded and embraces the notion that good food can look and taste however you want it to.

Editor’s Note: Kelsie Dewar is the Publicity Coordinator at the Marquette Food Co-op. She loves all things food, and enjoys reading, writing, photography and exploring the great outdoors in her free time. Kelsie can be reached at kdewar@marquettefood.coop.