April 22, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

Stanley Tucci, Klancy Miller: The Books Briefing

4 min read

It’s been more than a year of big grocery-store hauls in preparation for cooking, and more cooking, and … more cooking. During the pandemic, whether you were lovingly tending to your sourdough starter or simply boiling some water for another box of mac and cheese, many of us became intimately familiar with our kitchens. And as Hannah Giorgis wrote, professional chefs adapted their culinary skills to the moment, personally connecting with their audiences to share accessible home-cooking tips.

Some of those same chefs, and food media more broadly, also spent the past year reckoning with issues of racism and representation in the industry. While diversity efforts at major food magazines remain essential, people outside of legacy institutions have been doing the work for years to make the food world more inclusive. The chef and historian Michael W. Twitty’s The Cooking Gene and the chef and author Klancy Miller’s biannual print magazine, For the Culture, are just two more recent examples of smaller publications that celebrate Black people’s innovations in cooking.

Now, as we get ready to emerge from the pandemic, the ways we think about food and cooking are likely to change once more. Perhaps you’ll step foot in the kitchen only in your imagination, via the food writing of Ruth Reichl or M. F. K. Fisher. Maybe you’ll take a page from Sam Sifton’s new cookbook and find freedom in stovetop improvisation. Or you’ll be reinvigorated by the actor Stanley Tucci’s love of cooking, and cocktails, which he detailed for The Atlantic. Whatever path you take, I hope that your post-pandemic meals are accompanied by good friends (if you’ve found yourself more alone than not this past year) or a good book (if you’ve found yourself not alone enough).

Every Friday in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas.

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What We’re Reading

An egg in the shape of a heart


Foodie culture as we know it is over

“Rather than treating cooking as an inscrutable science, understood only by the upper echelons of the culinary world, chefs such as [Samin] Nosrat foster direct connections with their audiences. Their shows don’t require costly, rare ingredients, because they understand the needs of the average people who turn to them: When trips to the grocery store can be dangerous, creative combinations of existing foods are paramount.”

📚 Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers, by Julia Turshen

📚 Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, by Samin Nosrat

🎥 Nadiya’s Time to Eat, starring Nadiya Hussain

🎥Barefoot Contessa, starring Ina Garten

A dinner table in black-and-white


The table stays white

“Food media has the power to reorient such paradigms, and not just to symbolic effect. It has shown that it can do so: Devoting more coverage to the social and economic realities that drive the industry—rather than only discussing dishes in a vacuum—has allowed for more meaningful explorations of how food brings people together.”

📚 For the Culture, founded by Klancy Miller

📚 Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking for Yourself, by Klancy Miller

📚 The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, by Michael W. Twitty

book shaped like a slice of cake


How food-writing collections can shape us

“Most people become food writers because they love the pleasures of the table, or maybe even the craft of writing. I became a food writer because I loved books about food.”

📚 Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, by Ruth Reichl

📚 Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, by Anthony Bourdain

📚 Babette’s Feast, by Isak Dinesen

📚 An Alphabet for Gourmets, by M. F. K. Fisher

Smears of ingredients


When did following recipes become a personal failure?

“Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.”

📚 The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton

📚 The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Farmer

📚 The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer

📚 The I Hate to Cook Book, by Peg Bracken

Stanley Tucci


Stanley Tucci cooks his way through the pandemic

“At first, I had grand plans for how we might pass the time in convivial and entertaining ways. I thought perhaps a rotating schedule of cooks for the nightly meal, followed by movies, games, or Bordeaux-fueled charades by the fire. Things didn’t quite work out that way.”

📚 The Tucci Cookbook, by Stanley Tucci

About us: This week’s newsletter is written by Tori Latham. The book she’s waking up early to read is Real Life, by Brandon Taylor.

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