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Intern Jana discusses the joys of food writing.

Do you love food and reading? Do you hate when you try to combine the two, only to end up with marinara sauce all over your hardcover copy of Anna Karenina? The following are my favorite, mess-free way to enjoy two of my greatest loves.

1. Cook’s Illustrated – To me, there are few things more exciting as opening my tiny mailbox to find a new issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Ad-free, each slim edition of this bi-monthly publication is packed with goodies for the culinary enthusiast. Each recipe is preceded by an article describing the origin of the dish, a memory or two about it from the author, and an account of the trials and tribulations of perfecting it. Because of the quality of the content and the fact that I imagine the walls of my dream kitchen adorned with framed Cook’s Illustrated back-covers, I can never bring myself to throw the issues away.

2. Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food – Alton Brown is the host and creator of the food network show, Good Eats. Like the show, I’m Just Here for The Food is hilarious, interesting, and text-book informative. Brown not only tells the reader how to prepare a dish, but also why that method is best, using chemistry, biology and soufflé physics. Where many cookbooks simply hand you the proverbial fish, Brown gives the reader a rod and a reel and teaches them how to feed themselves for life.

3. Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – I quoted passages from this book for months after reading it, and I’ve cited it as a source in at least three projects for school. This non-fiction book about the author’s own experience living the local food movement inspires me to no end. It reads like a novel, punctuated with highly informative inserts written by Kingsolver’s husband Steven Hopp and recipes from her daughter, Camille. When the drudgeries of my indoor lifestyle get me down, I fantasize about one day harvesting morels and asparagus on my own organic farm.

4. Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain – Anthony Bourdain’s fearless tell-all got a lot of attention for insulting celebrity chefs and exposing some of the dirty secrets of the restaurant business. However, its brilliance lies not in its shock value, but in the sheer talent of the author. Anthony Bourdain is not just a brash former wild-child with a good story—this guy can write. His prose is exhilarating and sharply witty, with “outlaw” shades of Hunter S. Thompson. I may never eat a swordfish again, but I love this book.

5. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcela Hazan – This fantastic, authoritative cookbook is full of great recipes and information about proper ingredients and tools to use to make authentic Italian dishes.

6. The New Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst – Don’t know what chicory is? How about sabayon? This encyclopedic book is just what you need.

7. Chocolat, By Joanne Harris – Romance, magical realism, and delicious, delicious chocolate.

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