Cookbooks, history books, and memoirs about French cuisine are popular and fascinating, and I've read and cooked from quite a few of them. The majority of these works, however, were not written in French or written by French people. I've challenged myself to find books on the history and culture of food written in French by and for French readers -- and thus to learn what French people read when they want to read about food. I hope to find some books that will be appropriate for future reading in my culinary history reading group, to whom I've suggested that we try to read some actual French sources rather than just Americans.
Using google.com, google.fr, amazon.com, amazon.fr, and the bibliographies of books I've read, I have identified some such books, though I've mainly located academic sources rather than books written for a general reading public. Quite a few of these are very general histories of food in human history or of French food throughout all of French history, while I would like to find more specific histories comparable to those popular in the US. Also, I haven't yet found many very recent ones, although I've searched the best-sellers in amazon.fr -- a few sound interesting but do not seem to have appeared in English translation.
The photo above shows some of the French food books, other than cookbooks, that I own. I have read several of them, and have already written about a few on this blog. This is a preliminary list of French food books translated into English.
- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste: or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy.
- Alexander Dumas, Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine, translated into English under various names, usually abridged.
- Madeleine Ferrières, Sacred Cow, Mad Cow: A History of Food Fears.
- Jean-Louis Flandrin, Arranging the Meal: A History of Table Service in France.
- Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari, Food: A Culinary History, collection of essays.
- Prosper Montagne, Larousse Gastronomique: The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine & Cookery. (Obviously not a book to be read for a single discussion!)
- Anka Muhlstein, Balzac's Omelette.
- Jean-Robert Pitte, French Gastronomy.
- Edouard de Pomiane, Cooking with Pomiane. (I did a big project on Pomiane a few years ago.)
- Jean-François Revel, Culture And Cuisine: A Journey Through The History Of Food.
- Herve This, Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor and other books on molecular gastronomy.
- Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, A History of Food.
There will be more ... I hope!