By Esther Sung, Epicurious.com
Even though I love non-fiction, especially memoirs and personal narratives, I don't normally cover them here on the Epi-Log. That said, here are four books worth giving this holiday season.
See also: Our Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes
1. Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill) A personal interest in Iran coupled with a cheery cover made me pay attention to the book. Adventures not only in the kitchen but in life in general make this book worthwhile. And for tender depictions of a mother's love for a child, it's hard to find another so lovingly rendered than chef Donia Bijan's.
2. Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way by Molly Birnbaum (Ecco) The first time I ever heard of anyone losing their sense of smell was reading Raphael Kadushin's post about his mother's own loss of smell. I thought it was absolutely perplexing and fascinating. And if you're at all intrigued about the subject, you need to read Molly Birnbaum's memoir. With dreams to become a chef abruptly and forever interrupted, it's her recovery and journey of understanding that make this book worth reading. It's also refreshingly recipe-free.
3. A Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table by T. Susan Chang (Lyons Press) Less of a memoir and more of a collection of personal essays, well-known food writer T. Susan Chang opens up to reveal the myriad of emotions and thoughts that a food lover experiences. Put into context with life's many moments, and you're left with awe and wonder and an appreciation for all that food can--and does--represent.
See also: The Rules of Regifting
4. Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm by Erin Byers Murray (St. Martin's Press) I'm a sucker for stories that convey a sense of self-transformation, and Erin Byers Murray's is one of those. Unfulfilled by her work, she quit her job in search of something more meaningful and one that would fulfill her passion for food. That led her to Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Massachusetts, where she worked for 18 months. Murray doesn't sugarcoat her experiences; after all, it's not an ideal job or industry for many people. But that's precisely the reason why Murray's insightful book makes for a fun read.
In search for a book for your food-loving friend? Check out our Best Cookbooks of 2011 round-up, as well as the countless other titles we've reviewed on the Epi-Log.
More from Epicurious.com:
• The Ultimate Christmas Guide from Epicurious
• Easy Holiday Cocktail Party Bites
• One-Dish Wonders: Our Favorite Casserole Recipes
• Blue-Ribbon Chicken Recipes
SUPPER CLUB PICK
My after-school snack was a sacred ritual. I sat on the carpet in my parents' bedroom at a low table, the television turned to "I Dream of Jeannie," and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into neat squares. I wasn't fussy about crusts. I just loved the sticky pairing of creamy peanut butter with syrupy golden sweetness drizzled from a honey bear in diagonals across the soft white bread. Nothing else--save for maybe apples and peanut butter in a pinch--could have made for as sweet an