Move On From MasterChef
We like MasterChef for the drama and food, but there are more shows to watch, more podcasts to hear, and more books to read about our oldest common love: food. These are my recommendations for your food media diet, now seasoned for more fun than drama.
Indian Food: A Historical Companion by K T Acharya
This book is probably the closest you can come to a well-written encyclopedia about everything we consider to be modern Indian food. The author is an actual food scientist but is kind enough not to write like one. Give this a look if you’re a budding chef or want to know more about the food you consider yours.
Heat by Bill Buford
What happens when a home cook begins to work seriously in a series of pro kitchens? He loses his mind, gains some skills, and finds himself hungry for more experiences. This book is a lesser-known gem compared to Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. It’s set across two continents and more varied in food environments – restaurant kitchen, baker, butcher – than most books you’ll come across.
We’ve already raved about Netflix’s prettiest documentary series and Gaggan Anand on it here, so we’ll repeat ourselves a bit: it’s poetically shot, lets you know the chef and understand his/her ideology, the food and spaces it covers are iconic, and we’re more wide-eyed in wonder with every damn episode. If you don’t like it, we’ll consider paying your Netflix bill.
This one’s a podcast, best heard on your smartphone. Host Dan Pashman is on a serious mission to make us “Eat more, eat better, and eat more better!” He does this by taking calls from people looking for answers to a food conflict, interviewing food writers, cooks, and even scientists. His relaxed manner, enthusiasm, and warmth are definitely things we keep coming back for, apart from the amusing chatter around food.
The Art of Eating by M F K Fisher
Many would say this is the first book about food criticism that every food critic should read (yup, even if you’re only writing angry reviews on Zomato). There’s literary magic in the way she writes about the food she grew up eating, the kind of food she believes is good. A must-read for anyone who has eaten a bite of food and enjoyed it.
Food is The New Rock
Yup, we’re guilty of listening to a few too many podcasts. However, host Zach Brooks makes this one really interesting by talking to chefs about music and musicians about food. This one features Steve Aoki, Moby, and rockstar LA food critic, Jonathan Gold.
Table Talk by A A Gill
This book is a collection of his columns written for the Sunday Times. Calling Gill a food writer doesn’t do justice to his delightful range. The Englishman writes about culture, humanity, taste, flavour, and the context around food better than most writers. With a difficult past as an alcoholic, he uses humour to dismantle clumsy preparations placed in front of him. Praise from him is as eloquent as it is witty.
Cooked by Michael Pollan
Food nerds of the world have been raving about Michael Pollan for some time. The scientist has written some incredibly smart books about how food has evolved from our grandparents’ time. The most popular of these is Cooked, where he learns from experts how to cook using the 4 elements – fire, water, air, and earth. The book was later made into a 4-part documentary series by Netflix.
Tell us your favourite food book, movie, or podcast in the comments below!