Food plays a major role in these books, with settings in restaurants and bakeries, or with characters who have inherited or found special cookbooks and recipes. As we all look forward to the delicious treats of the holiday season, pick up a book that will get your mouth watering over secret family recipes, prize-winning bread starters, and forbidden sweets. Several of the books on this list even include recipes if you end up feeling some culinary inspiration. Also, don’t forget that the Library’s collection includes thousands of cookbooks to keep your oven full and your mixer busy!
Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks
When 31-year-old Wynter Morrison finds herself locked out of her L.A. house by her handsome, spoiled, unfaithful husband David, she is devastated. After 7 years of being an Executive Wife/Hostess (David's mandate), Wyn finds herself floundering in the traditional job market. She moves to Seattle temporarily for a fresh start, and her skills as a breadmaker-- picked up as an exchange student during an internship in Toulouse, land her a job baking bread at a local bakery.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
When Lars Thorvald's wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine--and a dashing sommelier--he's left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He's determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter--starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva's journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that's a testament to her spirit and resilience.
Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim
At the news of her mother's death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn't spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco's Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She's even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother's restaurant. The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant's fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother's cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around--she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors : A Novel by Sonali Dev
Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco's most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that's not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules. Trisha has been guilty of breaking all the rules, but finally has a chance to redeem herself. Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha's arrogance. Then he discovers that she's the only surgeon who can save his sister's life. But before a future can be savored there's a past to be reckoned with....
Sourdough : A Novel by Robin Sloan
Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her--feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.
The Recipe Box : A Novel With Recipes by Viola Shipman
When her efforts to pursue a professional culinary life away from her family's northern Michigan orchard end in disappointment, Sam spends a summer working for the family pie shop and begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family's history and her passion for food as she prepares beloved ancestral recipes.
The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Vérant
A disgraced chef rediscovers her passion for food and her roots in this stunning novel rich in culture and full of delectable recipes. French-born American chef Sophie Valroux had one dream: to be part of the 1% of female chefs running a Michelin-starred restaurant. From spending summers with her grandmother, who taught her the power of cooking and food, to attending the Culinary Institute of America, Sophie finds herself on the cusp of getting everything she's dreamed of. Until her career goes up in flames. Sabotaged by a fellow chef, Sophie is fired, leaving her reputation ruined and confidence shaken. To add fuel to the fire, Sophie learns that her grandmother has suffered a stroke and takes the red-eye to France. There, Sophie discovers the simple home she remembers from her childhood is now a luxurious château, complete with two restaurants and a vineyard. As Sophie tries to reestablish herself in the kitchen, she comes to understand the lengths people will go to for success and love, and how dreams can change.
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots : A Novel by Jessica Soffer
Lorca spends her life poring over cookbooks, making croissants and chocolat chaud, seeking out rare ingredients, all to earn the love of her distracted chef of a mother, who is now packing her off to boarding school. In one last effort to prove herself indispensable, Lorca resolves to track down the recipe for her mother's ideal meal, an obscure Middle Eastern dish called masgouf. Victoria, grappling with her husband's death, has been dreaming of the daughter they gave up forty years ago. An Iraqi Jewish immigrant who used to run a restaurant, she starts teaching cooking lessons; Lorca signs up. Together, they cook, but they also begin to suspect they are connected by more than their love of food. Soon, though, they must reckon with the past, the future, and the truth--whatever it might be.
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