Mario Batali is the brain behind famed culinary establishments Eataly, Del Posto, and Babbo, among others. He’s also written many bestselling books and cookbooks, including
But when he’s not writing (or cooking), he’s reading the books that inspire his culinary genius.
We asked Batali to share his reading list with us. Here are his 10 favourites, along with his reasons for his picks.
'I love Harrison's ability to capture the wonders of nature and the twisted complexity of human interaction,' said Batali.
'The Road Home' is told from the perspectives of five different characters, namely the protagonist Dalva as she returns to Nebraska to find the son, born of incest, whom she'd abandoned 30 years ago. The book continues the saga of the Northridge family from Harrison's 1988 book Dalva.
'A mystical and beautiful adventure entwined with the magic of the mysterious gypsy culture,' Batali told us of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude.'
This book, which is full of magical realism, depicts the village of Macondo and its residents, including José Arcadio Buendía, who built the village and who deals with the shadows of a civil war and the ghost of the man he killed who still haunts his house.
'Captures the bravura and picaresque genius of the Spanish character,' Batali said.
Originally published in two volumes, 'Don Quixote' tells the story of a self-made knight who, after reading so many chivalrous tales, decides to revive chivalry by setting out on a series of disillusioned, though good-intentioned, adventures. It's one of the most canonical books in Spanish literature.
'A dark, brooding tale of WWI and WWII, nearly detached from time and reality; (it's) an excellent take on the power of writing,' Batali said.
'The Cannibal' is Hawkes' first novel, based in part on his own experiences in WWII, though the book takes place during both World Wars. The only common thread in the novel, which jumps around in time and place, is a young and talented nightclub singer named Madame Snow, who is also the daughter of a German general.
'My first experience into the eye-opening realm of stream of consciousness -- a thrill a second, and a real joy,' Batali told us.
One of Faulkner's most beloved books, 'The Sound and the Fury' delves into the lives of various deranged members of the Compson family, including a mentally disabled son, a promiscuous daughter, a suicidal son, a drunken father, and a crazy mother, among others.
'An homage to the simple pleasure of real cooking with simple ingredients,' said Batali.
'An Omelette and a Glass of Wine' is a collection of food writer Elizabeth David's best articles published between 1955 and 1984 in various magazines and newspapers. Her stories explore trends in food and baking, and recount her own journey into the culinary world.
'A hilarious look at the quirky fun of America in all its commercial silliness with pop philosophy folded into every turn,' Batali told us.
Like many other works from the Beat generation, Brautigan's book examines snapshots of the characters' lives through the theme of trout fishing in America, which Brautigan uses to criticise American society.
'One of America's best food writers obsesses about the nature of the how and why food tastes good or bad in a hilarious journey to find the real deal,' said Batali.
Steingarten wrote 'The Man Who Ate Everything' when he was named the food critic at Vogue to try to develop a taste, and even a love, of foods he hated. His writing is lively and detailed, giving the reader a close, amusing look at the methodology he develops to eat, and eventually enjoy, different foods.
'A brilliant 'memoir' of WWII written from the perspective of a young Polish boy who decides not to grow up as a rebel against Nazi Germany, and his dad's decision to become a grocer,' said Batali.
'The Tin Drum' takes place during and after WWI. It's the fictional autobiography of Oskar Matzerath, a deformed young man writing from his detention in a mental hospital, about a murder he was convicted of but didn't commit. It's a compelling account of the war from an unusual point of view.
'Mughal Indian and Medici Florentine worlds collide in this brilliant story that weaves the lives and times of Petrarch and Machiavelli into those of Akbar and Mehmed,' Batali told us.
'The Enchantress of Florence' is about a beautiful and mysterious Mughal princess believed to be a sorceress who is kidnapped by a warlord. Taking place in India and Florence, the Italian man who claims to be her son arrives at the Grand Mughal court and turns the capital upside down.
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