Books

Top 5 food memoirs, chosen by Sumayya Usmani

The author, writer and food educator selects five food memoirs that have informed her own life and relationship with food and home

A chopping board with vegetables, herbs and a knife

Image: Katie Smith on Unsplash

1. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

A touching and powerfully written food memoir that touches on so much that is dear to me: finding cultural belonging through food, complicated relationships with mothers and trying to discover who you are. 

2. Never Eat Your Heart Out by Judith Moore

A really honest, simple memoir about good old food and eating values but also bad food memories! What I love most is the fact that she doesn’t make it into a precious food story, it’s about the grittiness and grime too. 

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3. The Gastronomical Me by MFK Fisher

Written by a food-writing legend, this is the first food memoir I ever read, and it inspired me to write. An honest story of the times told through food, including sexual taboos and wartime food. 

4. Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey

An exquisite childhood and the connection of food and family told with authenticity and love. Knowing Madhur personally, I could almost hear her telling me her food memories in person – there is much in the memoir that resonates with me deeply.  

5. Tender At the Bone by Ruth Reichl

A coming-of-age story told with such delicate beauty – how the love in the kitchen began, and how Ruth made sense of the world through food. 

Andaza cover

Andaza: A Memoir of Food, Flavour and Freedom in the Pakistani Kitchen by Sumayya Usmani is out on April 13 (£25, Murdoch Books). You can buy it, and some of these other titles, from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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