Edible Reads: 8 Books About Women Who Built Culinary Legacies

March is Women's History Month, an opportunity to highlight and celebrate women and their contributions, journeys, and possibilities.
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By Carmen Torrado Gonzalez, Buffalo Street Books

March is Women’s History Month, an opportunity to highlight and celebrate women and their contributions, journeys, and possibilities. In this month’s column, we pay tribute to the women who built American culinary legacies, who gather together to nourish and advance their communities, who beat the odds, and who dedicate themselves to the preservation of their heritage and culture. These women are chefs, home-cooks, food scientists, beloved family and community members, and we are lucky to learn from, cook with, and share a seat at the table with them.

Food-writing:
Why We Cook: Women on Food, Identity, and Connection by Lindsay Gardner
Lindsay Gardner’s visual storytelling makes this book a gorgeous object, and a brilliant stage for the stories, insights, and recipes from over a hundred women restaurateurs, activists, professional chefs, and home cooks. Why We Cook deliciously details how women nourish, inspire, create, and empower their communities in the kitchen and beyond, all while giving the reader a few recipes to help them do the same.


Memoirs/Biographies:
Edna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original (Edited by Sarah B. Franklin)
Edna Lewis is a staple in our collective cultural kitchens, having written some of the most significant American cookbooks. The various foodies in this book gather to pay tribute to Lewis’ legacy, to share their personal encounters with the legendary Lewis as an insightful, heartwarming tribute to her and her impact on the culinary world as we know it.”


An Onion in My Pocket: My Life with Vegetables by Deborah Madison
Deborah Madison makes exciting, delicious food, and her prose is equally so. Her delicious memoir will forever change the way one thinks about vegetables, and the relationships between food, love, purpose, and goodness.


Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier by Victoria James
While Wine Girl does concern itself with the wonders of wine, Victoria James also offers real, funny, and gritty insight on the resilience of a girl journeying from roadside-diner waitress to the youngest member of New York’s wine world, with all her challenges and triumphs in-between. A must-read for lovers of wine, food, and adventure.


Cookbooks:

Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from My Indonesian Kitchen by Lara Lee
Lara Lee’s cookbooks is alive with the fragrant, bountiful, colorful, and bold dishes that comprise the heart and soul of Indonesian meals, using the preparation, presentation, and enjoyment of these foods to share her stories and Indonesian heritage. A real gem of a cookbook that allows for the kind of discovery and appreciation we all hope for in a good meal.”


Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food by Julia Turshen
Julia Turshen’s newest book doesn’t sacrifice taste and heart in the name of health, giving every home cook the tools they need to enjoy comforting, delicious foods everyday. Julia sees the home cook in everyone, from professional chef to lover of microwaveable ramen, her recipes are simple yet satisfying and a must for every kitchen.


The Mexican Home Kitchen: Traditional Home-Style Recipes That Capture the Flavors and Memories of Mexico by Mely Martinez
Mely Martinez weaves her love of family, community, and tradition into each of her recipes, giving them the heartiness and familiarity of home. Martinez gives easy-to-follow instructions for an array of favorite comfort foods, making her book a go-to for authenticity, storytelling, and satisfaction.


The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes: Cakes, Pies, Crisps & More for Every Fruit on the Farm by Kelsey Siemens
Kelsey Siemens invites us to savor the flavors of every season, reconnecting us with the land via sweet, crumbly, creamy, and lovely treats. A great book for figuring out what to do with your overflowing CSA in the warmer months, and how to stay cozy in the colder ones. Siemens enlivens her recipes with her own experiences on the farm, highlighting the beauty of the harvest and each season.

Carmen Torrado Gonzalez is a local Ithacan, poet, maker, and the current Inventory Manager at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca. She loves cooking, camping, and hanging out with her dog, an elderly papillon named Manny.A

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