Now I’m Hungry: Food-Centric Fiction


In these pages, food is an essential ingredient.


Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe

Debbie Johnson

Come to the Comfort Food Café this spring for sunshine, smiles and plenty of truly scrumptious lemon drizzle cake. ‘As cosy as a buttered crumpet’ Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson ‘Summer wouldn’t be Summer without Debbie Johnson!’ Jenny Oliver

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The Amish Christmas Kitchen

Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand, Lisa Jones Baker

Something’s always baking in an Amish oven, and at Christmastime, all the ingredients for joy are at hand. Wrap yourself in the warmth of the Amish home—and the Plain peace of hearts joined by love. Each story includes a recipe from the author! BAKING LOVE ON ICE MOUNTAIN Kelly Long Newly married, Clara Mast and Daniel Kauffman have little to give but love during their first Christmas season together. But generous hearts are always willing to be creative in this “Gift of the Magi” inspired story. THE CHRISTMAS BAKERY ON HUCKLEBERRY HILL Jennifer Beckstrand When shy Katie Rose Gingerich’s dat sends her to Huckleberry Hill to secure a marriage proposal, she never expects to long for carefree Titus Helmuth—or to hope that he might want to spend every Christmas with her . . . THE SPECIAL CHRISTMAS COOKIE Lisa Jones Baker A charity auction, an unexpected friendship, and a stubborn spirit combine in an unusual courtship. But for Emma and Jonathan, overcoming obstacles is just one of the lessons to be learned about special blessings this holiday season.

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The Recipe Box

Viola Shipman

Growing up in northern Michigan, Samantha “Sam” Mullins felt trapped on her family’s orchard and pie shop, so she left with dreams of making her own mark in the world. But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star’s New York bakery is not what Sam dreamed. When the chef embarrasses Sam, she quits and returns home. Unemployed, single, and defeated, she spends a summer working on her family’s orchard cooking and baking alongside the women in her life—including her mother, Deana, and grandmother, Willo. One beloved, flour-flecked, ink-smeared recipe at a time, Sam begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family’s history, and her passion for food through their treasured recipe box. As Sam discovers what matters most she opens her heart to a man she left behind, but who now might be the key to her happiness.

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The Second-Worst Restaurant in France

Alexander McCall Smith

Paul Stuart's travels take him to a French village, where the local restaurant's haute cuisine leaves a lot to be desired. Renowned Scottish cookbook writer Paul Stuart is hard at work on his new book, The Philosophy of Food, but complicated domestic circumstances, and two clingy cats, are making that difficult. So when Paul's eccentric cousin Chloe suggests that he join her at the house she's rented in the French countryside, he jumps at the chance. The two quickly befriend the locals, including their twin-sister landladies, who also own the infamous local restaurant known to be the second-worst eatery in all of France. During their stay, the restaurant's sole waitress gives birth mid-dinner service and the maître d' storms off after fighting with the head chef. Paul is soon drafted to improve the gastronomy of the village, while Chloe, ever on the hunt for her next romance, busies herself with distracting the handsome but incompetent chef. Could he be husband number six? With all this local drama to deal with, Paul finds it next to impossible to focus on his writing, and that's before he learns that Chloe's past is far more complicated than he'd ever imagined. Paul will have to call upon all his experience—with food and with people—to bring order back to the village. And he may just learn something about family—and about himself—along the way.

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The Saturday Night Supper Club

Carla Laureano

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion. Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal. Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

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The Blue Bistro

Elin Hilderbrand

Having worked for six years in the hotels of exotic resort towns, Adrienne Dealey relocates to Nantucket in the hopes of recouping her finances and gets a crash course in restaurant management at a popular locale that is preparing to close, an endeavor that is compromised by her budding relationship with her boss.

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Comfort Food

Kate Jacobs

Tiring of playing the hostess as her fiftieth birthday approaches, celebrity chef Augusta Simpson endeavors to distance herself from her overly dependent loved ones and receives assistance from handsome fellow chef Oliver in her efforts to launch an on-air cooking class.

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Peaches for Father Francis

Joanne Harris

It isn't often you receive a letter from the dead. When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she allows the wind to blow her back to the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop. But Lansquenet is different now: women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the church: a minaret. Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought change. Father Reynaud, Vianne’s erstwhile adversary, is disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him now?

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When in Doubt, Add Butter

Beth Harbison

Dedicating herself to her culinary patrons, private chef Gemma Craig goes home every night to boxed cereals until an unexpected event compels a confrontation with the past and an unexpected romance.

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Sourdough

Robin Sloan

Leavened by the same infectious intelligence and lovable nerdiness that made Robin Sloan's Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore such a sensation, Sourdough marks the triumphant return of a unique and beloved young writer. Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her - feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it. Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she's providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer's market, and a whole new world opens up. When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly? Sourdough is a soup of skilfully balanced ingredients: there's satire, a touch of fantasy, a pinch of SF, all bound up with a likeable narrator whose zest for life is infectious.

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Kitchens of the Great Midwest

J. Ryan Stradal

Have you met Eva Thorvald? To her father, a chef, she's a pint-sized recipe tester and the love of his life. To the chilli chowdown contestants of Cook County, Illinois, she's a fire-eating demon. To the fashionable foodie goddess of supper clubs, she's a wanton threat. She's an enigma, a secret ingredient that no one can figure out. Someday, Eva will surprise everyone. One by one, they tell their story; together, they tell Eva's. Joyful, quirky and heartwarming, this is a novel about the family you lose, the friends you make and the chance connections that make a life. On the day before her eleventh birthday, she's cultivating chilli peppers in her wardrobe like a pro. Abandoned by her mother, gangly and poor, Eva arms herself with the weapons of her unknown heritage: a kick-ass palate and a passion bordering on obsession. Over the years, her tastes grow, and so do her ambitions. One day Eva will be the greatest chef in the world. But along the way, the people she meets will shape her - and she, them - in ways unforgettable, riotous and profound. So she - for one - knows exactly who she is by the time her mother returns.

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Sweetbitter

Stephanie Danler

Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job working front of house at a celebrated downtown restaurant. What follows is her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. The story of a young woman’s coming-of-age, set against the glitzy, grimy backdrop of New York’s most elite restaurants, in Sweetbitter Stephanie Danler deftly conjures the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the food industry and evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, and the fragility and brutality of being young and adrift.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey

Richard C. Morais

Born above his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan Haji first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumière, a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous Haji family takes Lumière by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French relais—that of the famous chef Madame Mallory—and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures. The Hundred-Foot Journey is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages—charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.

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Blue Plate Special

Frances Norris

Both humorous and heartbreaking, Blue Plate Special serves up an uplifting exploration of the courage it takes to embrace life after loss. Thirty-three-year-old Julia Daniel doesn't really feel at home anywhere. Her life in L.A. is lonely, and her career as a food stylist for a struggling gourmet magazine falls well short of her desire to be a photographer. Although she liked growing up in Kentucky, ever since her mother's death and her father's remarriage, her birthplace hasn't felt like the right fit either. After the tragic deaths of her father and stepmother in a plane crash, Julia's true odyssey begins. Orphaned and adrift, she tries to find her way in the world while fending off a crazy boss, a pilfering stepsister, and a looming depression. Though shored up by two good friends and an excellent psychologist who helps her work through her grief, it is an unexpected-and comically disastrous-trip to Sedona for the magazine that finally enables Julia to move forward. Returning to L.A., she searches for the strength to strike out on her own, take a chance on love, and seek a tentative peace with her wayward stepsister.

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In the Kitchen

Monica Ali

Gabriel Lightfoot is an enterprising man from a northern England mill town, making good in London. As executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel, he is trying to run a tight kitchen. But his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is under constant challenge from the competing demands of an exuberant multinational staff, a gimlet-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own. Despite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to pay off. Until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement. It is a small death, a lonely death -- but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life. Elsewhere, Gabriel faces other complications. His father is dying of cancer, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, and the restaurant manager appears to be running an illegal business under Gabe's nose. Enter Lena, an eerily attractive young woman with mysterious ties to the dead man. Under her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which strip him naked and change the course of the life he knows -- and the future he thought he wanted.

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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Aimee Bender

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them.

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Like Water for Chocolate

Laura Esquivel

Despite the fact that she has fallen in love with a young man, Tita, the youngest of three daughters born to a tyrannical rancher, must obey tradition and remain single and at home to care for her mother.

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The School of Essential Ingredients

Erica Bauermeister

Gathering at Lillian's Restaurant for a weekly cooking class, a young mother struggles with the growing demands of her family, an Italian kitchen designer works to adapt to life in America, and a widower mourns the loss of his wife to breast cancer.

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Eat Cake

Jeanne Ray

Ruth loves to bake cakes. When she is alone, she dreams up variations on recipes. When she meditates, she imagines herself in the warm, comforting center of a gigantic bundt cake. If there is a crisis, she bakes a cake; if there is a reason to celebrate, she bakes a cake. Ruth sees it as an outward manifestation of an inner need to nurture her family—which is a good thing, because all of a sudden that family is rapidly expanding. First, her mother moves in after robbers kick in her front door in broad daylight. Then Ruth’s father, a lounge singer, who she’s seen only occasionally throughout her life, shatters both wrists and, having nowhere else to go, moves in, too. Her mother and father just happen to hate each other with a deep and poisonous emotion reserved only for life-long enemies. Oh, yes indeed! Add to this mix two teenagers, a gainfully employed husband who is suddenly without a job, and a physical therapist with the instincts of a Cheryl Richardson and you’ve got a delightful and amusing concoction that comes with its own delicious icing. One of Jeanne Ray’s specialties is giving us believable, totally likable characters, engaged in the large and small dramas and amusements of life. Eat Cake is whimsical, warm, and satisfying. Eat Cake is Jeanne Ray at her best. Pull up a chair and eat cake!

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Fannie Flagg

Elderly Mrs. Threadgoode relates the story of her life and of her best friend, Ruth, who ran the Whistle Stop Cafe in Alabama in the thirties.

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