Hello and welcome to Audio File, a Camrose Public Library Podcast series. On this podcast, we recommend audiobooks that are truly music to the ears and available right here at CPL. Today’s episode will be focusing on the delicious world of food-related audiobooks, from instructive culinary books to foodie memoirs to fiction with a strong food-element. Fair warning: these audiobooks will make you hungry. Thanks for listening!
Hello everyone and welcome to Audio File, a Camrose Public Library Podcast series. On this podcast, we recommend audiobooks that are truly music to the ears and available right here at CPL. Today’s episode will be focusing on the delicious world of food-related audiobooks, from instructive culinary books to foodie memoirs to fiction with a strong food-element. Fair warning: these audiobooks will make you hungry. Let’s get to it!
Our first pick is the Young Adult Contemporary With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain—and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life—and all the rules everyone expects her to play by—once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
Acevedo’s prose is beautiful, downright poetic in fact. This is probably due to the fact that she’s a poet on top of being an author, and a good poet at that. The descriptions are rich and vibrant, making it feel as if the food is right in front of you. The characters are likable while also being flawed to make the situations feel very real. The Young Adult Library Services Association considers With the Fire on High to be one of the Top Ten Best Fiction For Young Adults from 2020 and it came in at number 3 in the 2020 Teens' Top Ten Winners. Additionally, it won a spot on the Amelia Bloomer Book List and was a nominee for the Young Adult category of the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards.
The 2019 Harper Teen and Harper Audio production of With the Fire on High is read by the author. It’s much more common in non-fiction to see an author be the narrator of their audiobook, but this is a great example of an author elevating their work in the fiction world. Acevedo has a great speaking voice and her poetic roots give her cadence a distinct and pleasant quality. This audiobook was also a 2020 Audie Awards winner in the Narration by Author category, a finalist in the Young Adult category, and an entry on the ALA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults List.
If you’re looking for a compelling journey about a young woman navigating an uncertain future using the power of food, try With the Fire on High.
Our next pick is the Adult Non-Fiction Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party by Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano. This is a call to arms against brunch and a how-to guide for fighting back, from the hosts of the hit podcast and public radio show The Dinner Party Download. Society is under threat. The culprit? BRUNCH. Not merely a forum for overpriced eggs, brunch is a leisure-time-squandering hellscape, embodying all that is soul-killing and alienating about modern life. How to fight back? By throwing dinner parties—the cornerstone of society! Dinner parties—where friends new and old share food, debate ideas, and boldly build hangovers together. If we revive the fading art of throwing dinner parties the world will be better off, and our country might heal its wounds of endless division... all without having to wait in a 9-hour line to eat toast. To that end, BRUNCH IS HELL takes hesitant hosts through every phase of throwing a great dinner party, from guest list to subpoena. Loaded with wit, celebrity advice, and tongue-in-cheek humor—plus sincere insights about how humans can be more generous to each other—Brunch is Hell is a spirited guide to restoring civility using good food and good company.
I acknowledge that the original date of this recording, February 2022, is perhaps not the best time for a dinner party, but it does pay to plan ahead and there are benefits to a little bit of escapism where you can pretend that there are no forces larger than yourself that prevent you from hosting a dinner party. After all, most of us will be out of practice when it comes to hosting a dinner party and it doesn’t hurt to get some tips. Or, if you hate hosting dinner parties and have no intention of ever hosting one, the book is also a hilarious montage of two guys dunking on the concept of brunch which is fairly entertaining on its own.
The 2017 Hachette Book Group audio production of Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party is read by the authors. With both narrators having podcast and radio experience, the performance is engaging and well executed. The audiobook is sprinkled with humor and has some real heart at the center. The audiobook is also very short, coming in at roughly five hours, to make for an easy listen while you make dinner.
If you’re looking for a laugh at the expense of the infamous breakfast-lunch hybrid, try Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party.
Our third pick is the Adult Historical Fiction The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan. On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on the Normandy coast of France, Emmanuelle is making the bread that has sustained her fellow villagers in the dark days since the Germans invaded her country. Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. In the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers. But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day, the Allies will arrive to save them.
The Washington Independent called The Baker’s Secret thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, and inspiring. It is a story of tragedy, but there is also the undeniable thread of hope and endurance that helps to lighten a heavy story. Fan of World War II fiction will likely enjoy this venture into a small French town keeping itself alive with a baker’s help.
The 2017 Harper Audio production of The Baker’s Secret is read by Cassandra Campbell. Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame. She has consistently been an AudioFile Magazine Best Narrator as well as a Publisher’s Weekly Best Narrator of the Year. She spent five years as an acting teacher of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and has performed in/directed dozens of plays at theaters across the United States. All this is to say that she’s one of the best in the business, which makes this audiobook well worth a listen. To quote the AudioFile review of The Baker’s Secret: “Narrator Cassandra Campbell’s penetrating voice conveys the suffering of a German-occupied French Village during WWII. . . Emma’s clandestine undertakings are conducted under a guise of cool stoicism masterfully expressed through Campbell’s soft and controlled delivery.”
If you’re looking for a historical tale with a hint of yeasty goodness, try The Baker’s Secret.
Next up, we have the Adult Non-Fiction Brooklyn in Love: A Delicious Memoir of Food, Family, and Finding Yourself by Amy Thomas. On an island where finding love can be just as hard as finding a dinner reservation on a Friday night, Amy Thomas never imagined a family would fit into her lifestyle. So when Amy finds herself turning forty, moving to Brooklyn, and making way for a baby with a new man in her life, she realizes that starting over may be her biggest opportunity yet. But how do you balance staying out all night dancing with staying up all night soothing a baby? Can a lifelong city girl trade in spontaneity for domesticity? Set amid the backdrop of Brooklyn and Manhattan's foodie scenes, Amy sets out to make her second act even sweeter than the first.
Amy Thomas’s second memoir is breezy, fluffy, even whimsical. There are a lot of descriptions and specific details, especially of food, which can at times detract from the larger story but it’s overall a fun experience.
The 2018 Tantor Audio production of Brooklyn in Love: A Delicious Memoir of Food, Family, and Finding Yourself is read by Cassandra Campbell. As mentioned previously, Campbell is a legend in the audiobook game and does Non-Fiction just as well as Fiction. Her warm tones and confident delivery make for a great performance and really helped elevate the descriptions of food, New York City, and Amy Thomas’ life in general. To quote the AudioFile review of the memoir: “Thomas's life at times seems a bit too perfect, and production quality isn't seamless from chapter to chapter, but overall this is a delicious undertaking.”
If you’re looking for a light read with some recommendations for New York eateries, try Brooklyn in Love: A Delicious Memoir of Food, Family, and Finding Yourself.
Our fifth pick is the YA Romance Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger's massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper's side. When he isn't trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin's shadow, he's busy working in his family's deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma's iconic grilled cheese recipe, he'll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All's fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack's spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they're publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they're also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate, their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can't ignore they were destined for the most unexpected and awkward romance that neither of them expected.
To quote the Publisher’s Weekly review of Tweet Cute: “Although the outcome of Pepper’s and Jack’s frenemy relationship is fairly predictable, family secrets and surprising turns of events keep the story moving until misunderstandings and loose ends resolve.” Fans of the film You’ve Got Mail will no doubt see some similarities here and should enjoy the contemporary twist on a classic.
The 2020 Macmillan Audio production of Tweet Cute is narrated by Dan Bittner and Emily Shaffer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having multiple narrators for a story with multiple perspectives elevates the audiobook and gives it that something extra. It works particularly well with romance as it gives deeper insights into the two perspectives and how they play off of each other.
If you’re looking for a comic romance set in the big apple, try Tweet Cute.
Our last pick is the Adult Non-Fiction Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. A visionary new master class in cooking that distills decades of professional experience into just four simple elements, from the woman declared "America's next great cooking teacher" by Alice Waters. In the tradition of The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything comes Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, an ambitious new approach to cooking by a major new culinary voice. Chef and writer Samin Nosrat has taught everyone from professional chefs to middle school kids to author Michael Pollan to cook using her revolutionary, yet simple, philosophy.
Master the use of just four elements—Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food—and anything you can cook will be delicious. By explaining the hows and whys of good cooking, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will teach and inspire a new generation of cooks how to confidently make better decisions in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients, anywhere, at any time.
This cooking manifesto is no joke. It’s a New York Times Bestseller and Winner of the 2018 James Beard Award for Best General Cookbook and multiple IACP Cookbook Awards. Furthermore, it was named one of the Best Books of 2017 by NPR, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Rachel Ray Every Day, San Francisco Chronicle, Vice Munchies, Elle.com, Glamour, Eater, Newsday, Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Seattle Times, Tampa Bay Times, Tasting Table, Modern Farmer, Publishers Weekly, and you get the idea. Last but certainly not least, it’s a Netflix series too. With a whole army of accolades behind it, there’s no reason not to give this bad boy a whirl.
The 2017 Simon & Schuster Audio production of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is narrated by the author. Samin Nosrat is an American chef, TV host, food writer and podcaster. Known for being pragmatic and unpretentious, Nosrat is a celebrated teacher who has shared cooking advice across many mediums from television to writing to podcasting. Nosrat has a calm, even tone that is great for drawing in the audience and works well to convey information in a way that makes it stick.
If you’re looking for inspiration and instruction to help re-invent your cooking, try Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
That’s it for this episode of Audio File. All the audiobooks discussed are available at Camrose Public Library in audio CD or downloadable audio format at the time of this recording. Thanks very much for listening and remember to stay curious.