It's June, and with June come thoughts of gardens; and with gardens, harvests; and with harvests, delicious summer meals; and after delicious summer meals come leisurely evenings; and what better way to fill leisurely evenings than with reading; and what better to read about than more food?
Whether it's a hefty cookbook with sumptuous photography and ambitious ingredient lists or a novel depicting a feast in such detail that your mouth waters, food and literature are a natural pair. With the slew of food-related holidays ahead of us—Fresh Veggies Day on the 16th, Eat Your Veggies Day on the 17th, and Sushi Day on the 18th—we thought this would be a great opportunity to look at another excellent fusion of food and words: food blogs!
We aren't concerned with just any food blogs, though. If it's only instructions you're after, there are plenty of excellent blogs out there to help you find the perfect chocolate bundt cake recipe or yet another method to use up that ungodly amount of zucchini. But we prefer the blogs that tie in a little something extra, and a dose of culture or literature usually does the trick. Here are a few of our favorites:
Zaira Zarotti is a Venetian photographer, ceramicist, and food stylist, as well as a delightful observer. Her writing is charming and contemplative, and covers not only food, ceramics, and her gorgeous surroundings, but also her philosophical musings on the joy of solitude and the beauty of imperfection. When people ask her about the name of her blog, she explains that the word freaky has come to represent a broad concept for her: “Something which is unusual and a bit odd. Absurdly imperfect! What a lovely sound it has! . . . For me, freaky has become more than just a word; it’s another way of approaching what is around us. Perfection doesn’t exist." Perfection might not exist, but Zarotti's blog surely approaches it. And the recipes are fanciful—case in point: a green panna cotta made with nettles and inspired by the crumbling kitchen of an abandoned estate.
A. V. Crofts has written extensively about food, culture, and identity for such publications as Colors Northwest Magazine, Saveur, and Gastronomica, and we are thrilled to be producing her first book, Meet Me at the Bamboo Table: Everyday Meals Everywhere. Crofts is a well-traveled food lover, and her writing reflects a thoughtful engagement with the cultures and sociopolitical issues she encounters across the globe. She describes her blog as "an idea generator and a clearinghouse of ongoing conversations that add to the growing collection of gastro-ethnographical chatter–a fancy way to describe conversations on how we are what we eat." You won't find too many recipes here, but you'll find ample food for thought about how what we eat connects us with who we are.
This is cheating, because it's not actually a blog. But Reaktion Books is a fantastic publisher based in the United Kingdom that specializes in well-researched well-written series delving into the cultural, historical, and mythological details of animals, places, and foods. Anybody putting out detailed monographs on the global history of lemons, dumplings, figs, and gin, among several pages of others, is worth a mention here. Reaktion has several food-related books outside the Edible Series as well, such as Appetites for Thought, which looks at the culinary lives of philosophers. Did you know that Sartre was repulsed by shellfish and tomatoes?
When a recipes gallery features the categories of Desserts; Pies, Pastries, and Tarts; Biscuits; Cakes; Sweets and Chocolates; and Afternoon Tea (as well as a few savory categories), you know it's going to be good. Kate Young's The Little Library is a collection of delightful recipes inspired by the author's favorite books; in each post, you'll find a review of a book, the excerpt that inspired the recipe, and the recipe itself. You can also follow her recipes on Instagram: @bakingfiction. Her clean, bright photography and elegant china plates are always a welcome sight on an Instagram feed.
Paper and Salt takes the inspiration for its recipes not from individual books but from their authors. As such, the blog has a historical bent, delving into such trivia-worthy material as the first mention of a roast beef sandwich in print (a letter from John Keats to his mother in 1818, compiled and printed in the 1895 The Letters of John Keats). If you're looking for well-researched literary history and a window into the culinary life of your favorite authors, this is the place.
Nicole Gulotta has created a haven for readers, writers, eaters, and explorers. In addition to recipes inspired by poems, she offers literary city guides curated by locals and featuring the best bookish destinations across the globe, as well as a newsletter and free course to inspire writers seeking to dedicate more time to their creative pursuits (aren't we all). She even runs a food haiku contest. This month's winner will be announced just in time for Fresh Veggies Day; the theme is avocado, and the accompanying recipe is sure to be delicious.
This is only a small sampling of the wonderful world of literary and cultural food blogs. If you have a favorite, please leave us a comment—we'd love to know about it!