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A Menu of Audiobooks Providing Food for Thought

In his book EATING ANIMALS, novelist Jonathan Safran Foer writes, “Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving, and identity.” Food conjures memories of our childhood, lures us to foreign lands, and represents a rich tapestry of social and cultural history. This collection of audiobooks showcases the exploration of food in vastly different contexts. 

NATIONAL DISHNATIONAL DISH: Around the World in Search of Food, History, and the Meaning of Home by Anya Von Bremzen, read by Kathleen Gati
Penguin Audio

This title is a great example of how food and world history are intertwined. Narrator Kathleen Gati captures the international flair of this audiobook by Jewish-Russian-American food and travel writer Anya Von Bremzen. Gati brings out Bremzen’s wit and curiosity as she shares her distinct opinions on international dishes—food that, in many cases, has become a national symbol for each of the very different countries. Pizza, pot au feu, and a touch of politics are served up with passion and delight in this exploration into the past and present of world cuisine.

by Grace Lin, read by Lisa Ling and Grace Lin
Hachette Audio

This audiobook for young listeners inspires the mind and the belly with stories behind Chinese cuisine. Food history moves into the realm of symbolic narrative as author Lin explores how iconic dishes are tied to Chinese mythology. Lisa Ling's conversational tone and pronunciation of Chinese words lend authenticity to this unveiling of the origin of iconic dishes such as dumplings and the folklore about rice. Ling’s natural storytelling skills convey the mysticism behind tea and its ceremony that richly define Chinese identity and cuisine. In addition to an impeccable performance by Ling, Lin's author’s note, which she reads herself, and sound effects such as harp-like notes to signal transitions and tea cups clinking round out this enlightening listening experience. 

by Rebecca L. Spang with a foreword by Adam Gopnik, read by Elisabeth Lagelee
Tantor Media

We've all sought tables in restaurants to partake in meals, often with others. But have you ever wondered about the origins of said places of sustenance and socializing? Elisabeth Lagelee's lovely accent provides the perfect atmosphere for this audiobook about the invention of modern food culture. Lagelee's musical delivery of French words and phrases adds a sparkle to author Spang’s deep dive into the travel journals, medical treatises and gastronomic literature that reveal how restaurants, menus, and dining habits affect social habits around the world. Discover how restorative broth contributed to the evolution of restaurants in this fascinating audiobook, perfect to discuss over dinner . . . at a restaurant.

written by Michaele Weissman, read by Barrie Kreinik
Algonquin Books

Author Weissman explains the role rye bread has played in her life. Barrie Kreinik deftly delivers Weissman’s dry humor in this memoir about the author, a Jewish writer from New York, and her marriage to John, a rye bread-loving Latvian immigrant physicist. Kreinik engages listeners in the details of romantic beginnings, and conflicts, as Michaele learns about the deep-rooted symbolism of rye bread. Kreinik tastefully adapts her narration when recounting the traumatic family history of Michaele's Lithuanian-Jewish family and her husband's Latvian family. There’s a beautiful marriage of bread and life lessons in this inspiring true love story.

ICEICE: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks—a Cool History of a Hot Commodity 
by Amy Brady, read by Jennifer Aquino
Penguin Audio

Most discussions about ice revolve around climate change and science. In this cool listening experience, author Amy Brady explores ice as something to consume and as a tool to preserve food. Narrator Jennifer Aquino is enthusiastic and energetic as she recounts the history of ice in the U.S. Her pace and tone match the content as Brady covers a myriad of ice-related issues including the fun aspects of ice consumption in curious drink concoctions, the origins and perils of ice harvesting, and the environmental cost of making frozen water. Whether you are chomping it or skating on it, ICE gives food for thought. 

by Joi Copeland, Cynthia Hickey, Linda Baten Johnson, and Teresa Ives Lilly, read by Rosanna Pilcher
Oasis Audio

Now, let’s detour from food history to some foodie mysteries. Rosanna Pilcher provides a delightful delivery of this food-themed collection of four short cozy mysteries. Characters who own and work on food trucks investigate a series of murders within a food truck park in Birch Tree, Maine. The Christian-based stories, each featuring a different cuisine, are written by four authors. Noodles, donuts, potatoes, and tacos are on the menu, and Pilcher alters her voice to fit each stand-alone story to accommodate the gender, ethnicity, and age of each character. If you're looking for a fun takeaway, this may be the meal ticket for you.

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