Tag Archives: food culture

Grand Opening: Read It and Eat

So many books, so little time

So many books, so little time

Last night, I attended the grand opening of a new bookstore in Chicago — a bookstore dedicated to food. It is named, appropriately, Read It & Eat. The handsome, bright venue is dominated by pristinely white shelves crammed with cookbooks, food histories, food literature, volumes on food and culture, works on food and science (have to get Harold McGee in there), food fiction — thousands of books — but there is also a spiffy kitchen along one wall, for doing demos and teaching classes. So definitely food-centric — and deliriously fun for those who love food and books.
Test and demo kitchen

Test and demo kitchen

For the opening, Mindy Segal was on hand, signing copies of her new book, Cookie Love. The bonus here was that she also supplied some of the cookies featured in the book. Impressively elegant sweets. Saw a lot of friends there, including Patty Erd of The Spice House, Catherine Lambrecht, creator of LTHforum.com and the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance and guiding spirit of Culinary Historian of Chicago, and Scott Warner, president of Culinary Historians. But all those who crowded the new shop were clearly enthusiasts. It looked as though as many were buying books as were enjoying the cookies, wine, and chatting with other book lovers. A highlight among many highlights for me was, of course, seeing my own book–Midwest Maize–on the shelf.

The bookstore is the brainchild of Esther Dairiam, who was inspired by a splendid culinary bookstore in Paris. She hoped that Chicago, among the country’s most food-centric locations, would be a good place to try to create something similar, but with the addition of the kitchen facilities, to create a more complete food experience.

Read It & Eat is located at 2142 N. Halstead, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. If you’re in the area, it is definitely worth visiting.

Well-labeled shelves

Well-labeled shelves

It’s a great concept well executed. I hope they do splendidly well.


Filed under Books, culinary history, Culture, Food

Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia

More than a year ago, I was invited to contribute a couple of major articles to a proposed encyclopedia. It was intended to be four volumes and was, at the time, called the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. Now, more than a year later, the encyclopedia, still four volumes but renamed the Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, is out.

Chances are, this is the sort of work that will mostly be purchased by libraries and universities. Each entry covers the foodways and culture of a different country. The countries I chose were Mongolia and Jordan, as I’d spent time in both places and had studied the food and customs of both. Each article includes an overview, a “food culture snapshot” (a vignette of how food fits into the life of a single family), a couple of recipes, and then sections on major foodstuffs, cooking, typical meals, eating out, special occasions/holidays, and diet and health.

It was a wonderful project. While I’m not going to suggest you buy this massive encyclopedia, I am happy to say that you can see it on Amazon — and the “look inside” feature allows you to search by topic. So if nothing else, you can at least see the scope of the work. Too bad there aren’t more projects like this out there. I could happily do this on a regular basis.

Anyway, here’s the link to the Food Cultures of the World Encylopedia on Amazon. If you’re impressed, you could always mention it to your local library. 🙂


Filed under Books, culinary history, Culture, Food, Geography, History, Travel