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My favorite part of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: One woman’s search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia, is definitely “Eat.” I love the way that Gilbert writes about feeding (literally) her soul with food that is slowly, beautifully, and artistically prepared. Love or hate the book in its entirety, Eat, Pray, Love is worth picking up if only for Gilbert’s description of her obsession with the pizza in Naples. No ordinary pizza, this pie is so incredible that she has a bit of an existential crisis, wondering how she can go on eating in a world in which she has tasted perfection. If you like your reading material sprinkled with the sensory detail that makes Gilbert’s Italy section so memorable, try these other delicious reads:
My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud''homme
My Life in France is a touching, intimate memoir of Julia Child’s love affair with Paul Child, France, and French cooking. This memoir is a completely romantic, yet unsentimental, description of following your heart and finding your passion at any age.
Stuck in a dead end job and struggling with a biological clock that has started ticking, Julie Powell decides to feed her spirit with food from Julia Child’s tome Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In one year, she attempts all 524 recipes from the book and blogs about her experiences. Together with Julia Child’s My Life in France, this book was the basis for the 2009 movie, Julie and Julia .
Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes
A companion book to Mayes’s wildly successful Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany explores the simple culinary pleasures of living in this region of Italy. Prose is interspersed with recipes.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Vianne Rocher is a beautiful and mysterious newcomer to the small village of Lansquenet in the south of France. When she opens a chocolate shop, townspeople are torn between their solemn Lenten vows and the vast sensory (and sinful?) pleasures Vianne’s shop promises. Chocolat was made into a film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Rose Edelstein is nine years old when she tastes emotions for the first time. It is in her birthday cake—a lemon with chocolate frosting—that she senses her mother’s longing and sadness. This novel blends elements of magical realism with a coming-of-age story that is sweetly told.
Como agua para chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
I was reminded a lot of this novel while reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Set in the early 20th century in Mexico, the novel is the passionate love story of Tita and her sister’s fiancé Pedro. Unable to express their affection for each other, they share their feelings through the food that Tita prepares for him. Each chapter begins with a recipe that communicates Tita’s love, rage, jealousy, and sadness. The book was adapted for a 1992 film .