My 10 Favorite Books: Alice Waters – Alice Waters

For his new bookshop installation, One Grand, the editor Aaron Hicklin asked people to name the 10 books they’d take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. The latest installment in the series comes from Alice Waters —chef, author, restaurant owner and slow-food pioneer — who shares her picks exclusively with T.


Credit Lucas Jackson/Reuters

“The French Menu Cookbook,” Richard Olney

Olney is one of the great recipe writers, because all of his recipes work. He was a painter, and channels that vivid language to make his recipes come to life on the page.

“Elizabeth David Classics: Mediterranean Food, French Country Cooking, Summer Cooking,” Elizabeth David

I was very lucky that someone gave me this as my first cookbook. David doesn’t give a lot in terms of the recipes — “take a handful and throw it in the pan with some garlic” — so you have to think for yourself. And then you figure it out.

“Sacred Food: Cooking for Spiritual Nourishment,” Elisabeth Luard

Worth it for the pictures alone — people celebrating the important moments of their lives. There’s an Indian banquet where everyone is eating off of leaves, sitting on the floor. One of these days, I’m going to thrown an event like that.

“A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction,” Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein

Who needs a big place to live in? You need a front porch, you need a busy street, you need neighbors to say hello and goodnight to and you need a bedroom to restore yourself. This is a book you can open on any page. You might find a drawing of the narrow streets of Ethiopia, or a chapter titled “Dancing in the Streets,” which is something people have done forever.

“Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal,” Eric Schlosser

I like to tell the good news. Schlosser tells the bad news. Sometimes it just needs to be said.

“The Man Who Planted Trees,” Jean Giono

This book is so hopeful that I gave it to Obama. It feels so naïve that it almost reads like a children’s book, but it’s something I believe — that you can change the world by planting trees.

“And the Pursuit of Happiness,” Maira Kalman

I love Maira. She is always talking about this country and how we behave, and looking for the good news. This book is incredibly important to me because it’s about Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers, and how she kind of found them.

“Savage Inequalities,” Jonathan Kozol

A book that shocked me — that there are schools that flood in the winter, that kids have to put on their boots to cross the campus to use restrooms — and it’s even worse now.

“What Are People For?,” Wendell Berry

Berry puts that stake in the ground. He’s a poet as well as a wonderful writer, and his message is simple: Nature is our teacher. We just need to listen and feel it, and try not to get in its way.

“Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair,” Carlo Petrini

Petrini knows how to win people over, and he’s a writer who translates difficult ideas about biodiversity and sustainability into metaphors that readers can understand right away.

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Categories: Books, Food

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