A Feast of Listening for the Holidays

Robin’s Roundup December 21

One of my favorite times to listen is while I’m cooking, and during the holidays I’m spending more time with my sleeves rolled up. This is when I wish I had a voice-controlled speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home. Pushing pause when your hands are gummy always presents a problem!

Any audiobook choice will do, but if  you’re in the mood to hear about food while you are preparing food, here are some possible choices.

Twain's Feast
A Chef's Christmas

Nick Offerman hosts a lively audio program based on food writer Andrew Beahrs’ book TWAIN’S FEAST. It’s much more than a straight narrative with Offerman reading from Twain’s letters and comments, and an actual eight-course meal is prepared with chef Tyler Anderson. If you haven’t fully planned your menus—this program may give you some ideas!  Hearing Anthony Bourdain read his short story, A CHEF’S CHRISTMAS is a bit bittersweet, but we’re reminded of the late chef/writer/television personality’s ability as a storyteller. It’s great to hear Bourdain and may even lead you to his 2010 memoir MEDIUM RAW.

Gourmand's Way
The Food and Wine of France

If you love to read about some of the famous food writers—like Alice B. Toklas, M.F.K. Fisher, and Julia Child—you might be interested in Justin Spring’s well-researched, somewhat gossipy account of six classic American food writers and their lifelong love of France and its food and wine, THE GOURMANDS’ WAY. Narrator Bronson Pinchot has a great touch with this audiobook, and an excellent French accent. And while we’re talking about French cuisine, check out THE FOOD & WINE OF FRANCE by Edward Behr— with the subtitle “Eating and Drinking from Champagne to Provence.” Graham Halstead delivers this fascinating listen, and you may come away with ideas for future travel.

Nanettes Baguette
Chef Roy Choi

If you have any young helpers in your kitchen, here are two choices that will liven up the cookie-making. Mo Willems and family members Cher and Trixie will entertain you with NANETTE’S BAGUETTE. And why not add a little rap to your cooking adventures? Korean-American chef Roy Choi’s CHEF ROY CHOI AND THE STREET FOOD REMIX might be just the thing—L.A. graffiti artist Man One brings it on. Listeners are guaranteed to finish with a hankering for some spicy food. Authors Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee teach us about sohn maash, “the flavors in our fingertips. It is the love and cooking talent that Korean mothers and grandmothers mix into their handmade foods.”

One foodie audiobook that so amused me this year is Andrew Coe’s CHOP SUEY, narrated by Eric Martin. I love the idea of exploring the “Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States,” learning what the Gold Rush did for Chinese food, and why we like egg rolls. The history of the relationship between the Chinese and Jewish communities in New York’s Lower East Side gets covered, and you’ll be able to answer the question, Why do Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas?—or watch the video below.

Have fun with your cooking and your listening!

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

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