Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days” as Want to Read:
Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  317 ratings  ·  60 reviews
From the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author James Salter and his wife, Kay—amateur chefs and perfect hosts—here is a charming, beautifully illustrated tour de table: a food lover's companion that, with an entry for each day of the year, takes us from a Twelfth Night cake in January to a champagne dinner on New Year's Eve. Life Is Meals is rich with culinary wisdom, history, ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Knopf
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Life Is Meals, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Life Is Meals

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,026)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
With an entry for each day of the year, I will be reading this daily style, savoring each entry like a good meal. I sent this book to a friend that loves to cook and who takes joy in the process in hopes that we both can share some conversation this coming year over the love of food.

I will not post everyday but may share thoughts on what I'm reading now and then.

January 1st speaks to how much of our lives celebrations revolve around food.

"It is a habitual ceremony"
When I first decided to lose
It was the illustrator of Life is Meals that led me to the book. I'm a big fan of the watercolor work of Fabrice Moireau, who's illustrated several gorgeous sketchbooks of major cities, various regions of France, and other exotic locations. In this book, Moireau seems to have had his hands tied a bit. The illustrations are small---little, precise cameos scattered through the text. Still, I love anything Moireau does and this book is no exception. I had not read James Salter before and I'm very g ...more
As a person not accustomed to reading books about foodies, this was a new experience. The authors know quite a deal about the history of food, particularly pertaining to French cuisine, as well as other European countries. If you want to know about different types of wine, and about possibly different restaurants to dine at in France, this book is a good reference. It also has a collection of recipes to make some foods connected to historical figures or events. The book is supposed to be read on ...more
Though this would've been the perfect "snack" book -- pick it up and have a bite now and then -- I treated it like Thanksgiving, gorging myself.

I learned a ton of random food and drink trivia, marked some recipes to try and really, really wished James and Kay were in my inner circle. Their attitude toward food -- hell, toward life -- is exactly the philosophy I'm embracing these days.

I plan to liberally quote, cook and loan.
Considering that I will happily eat leftovers out of my hand over the sink if nobody's watching, I'm probably not this book's target audience, but I really enjoyed it. The whole book is a love letter to a life spent richly experiencing food and it's charming throughout, with individual entries ranging from ancient history to useful advice to personal memories. Highly recommended.
I really enjoyed this book. There's an entry for each day of the year . The entries are all connected with food - the history of various dishes and ingredients, various historical figures connected with food (chefs and people who were known for their love of eating), food in different cultures and countries, seasonal traditions connected with food, and, my personal favourite, the authors' own memories and experiences of food which they've cooked and eaten at home, together, for dinner parties th ...more
james salter is a brilliant novelist, and this book of days (of food) is a selection he and his wife kay salter have collected and written of the many years of married life, in aspen and long island, and paris, cooking, eating, dinner parties given and attended, romantic meals in restaurantes etc. but frankly the "facts" are fuzzy and the recipes are mostly taken from others and not so unique. the illustrations though are super, and the book was designed and made by callaway, so the physical boo ...more
Eva Gogola
I wish I could give this book a hundred and five stars. Cover to cover, it was one of my favorite books. First, you can't go wrong with the subject: food. The authors are married, adorably in love and very knowledgeable about meals. The book reads in short spurts, one or two passages for each day of the year. Some days cover history, others recipes and yet other personal anecdotes. Every day, every month, is a delight to read. It made me interested in wine for the first time in my life. The book ...more
I will read this book again every day of every year. My beside bible. Entries by James and Kay Salter range from food preparation to guests lists for dinner parties. Historical elements for tableware as well as famous chefs. The daily readings are educational and entertaining. A great gift for the food lover..............
Katie Wooten
A seriously amazing collection of food facts, anecdotes, and history. I read through this quickly and plan to read each day of the year again for the rest of the year. The authors are a couple and allow the reader to look inside their relationship through their love of food. This books is both charming, fun, and informative.
Krista Schrock
One of the best books I've read on the history of food and how food has revolved around every day for centuries. Meant to be read as an entry per day but I loved it so much I read it a month a day! If you are in to food, you will love this great book.
Peggy Lo
I'm up to April in this book. It has beautiful watercolors and is a nice mix of stories, random facts about food/cooks, and a few recipes here and there. There are also these beautiful watercolor illustrations that complement the book really well.

I like the idea that they put out in the beginning of the book- the idea of having a family cookbook of sorts where you add in your favorite recipes and make notes on the margins about who liked what and any changes to the recipe that made it better. Yo
Don Gillette
Good, light reading. It's not a research manual, and it's dated, but some of the anecdotes and recipes are worth a look.
A few bits were interesting. I liked learning more about the difference between the various colors of peppercorns, and info about which fruits ripen after they are picked and which don't. It was mildly interesting reading about famous people and their relationship with food. But mostly, it was irritating. I do not care for food, it's purpose is to sustain life and meet emotional needs LOL. So their fixation with food was incomprehensible to me, plus it is amazing how much inappropriate content t ...more
very boring
Minette Yao
One per day or tons in a row, you can eat the anecdotes up like little snacks.
I loved this book. A gorgeous cover and beautiful accompanying illustrations for the text. While the flow from subject to subject had little context, most every item is supremely interesting and added to my overall enjoyment and appreciation of this read. I would love to own this book but not sure how many times I would actually reread it so something perhaps to be borrowed from the library in future. Certainly something to give as a gift for a hostess or fellow food lover. A most excellent gem ...more
"The meal is the essential act of life. It is the habitual ceremony, the long record of marriage, the school for behavior, the prelude to love. Among all peoples and in all times, every significant event in life - be it wedding, triumph, or birth - is marked by a meal or the sharing of food and drink. The meal is the emblem of civilization. What would one know of life as it should be lived or nights as they should be spent apart from meals?" - Life is Meals
It's sweet, and cute, and some of the information, fascinating (the risotto recipe is good, and simple enough to remember), but I kept being a little creeped out by how Jim is consistenly cast as the older-and-wiser of the two of them, and Kay is always the one in need of teaching. They've been married, like, thirty years, and that's one hell of a power imbalance to live with for thirty years. ::judges:: MY PRECONCEPTIONS, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.
I had high hopes for this book--I generally enjoy these types of books where there is a short entry for each day--kind of like a journal. However, I had to look at the date of publication to determine whether this one was written in the 1970's or earlier. It was a bit outdated and the authors' have the opinion that there is NO red wine that goes with chocolate. I should have stopped reading it at that point--ALL red wine goes with chocolate.
Bryan Mullalley
This is a great book to have laying around and then pickup to read for several days. It has a separate article for every day of the year. I've used some of the recipes and also enjoy the historical and cultural content. I would recommend this book as a gift for your favorite family member/friend who enjoys cooking and eating. My copy was a gift from my daughter, which makes it more special!
Though the thought of reading only the corresponding chapter each day is charming, it'd be a bit like having only one bite of dessert and then pushing the plate away. The concept appealed to me for roughly 2 days. Now I save a week's worth for one sitting which is more akin to having a full meal. This is a great read for any lover of food.
Food history, recipes, armchair travel, this was a great read. In diary format, so you can read as much or as little at a time a you want, there's a food related entry for every day of the year. For those who wish they could travel more, cook better, be a wine afficiando, or a trivia master!
Brian Olson
This is an absolutely beautiful book, and I would love to own a copy. It has color illustrations, a cloth bookmark, recipes, and wonderful anecdotes. Its a fun book to dip into and enjoy. I made dinner last night on a whim with a recipe from this book using simple ingredients, and it was wonderful.
Very readable "book of days" type book with bits of culinary history, fond memories, and recipes scattered throughout the book. Definitely one to dip into again from time to time.

(h/t Rebecca Schinsky @ Book Riot for talking this up so much last winter, a great recommendation)
Jeffrey St.
James Salter, one of the 20th century's most sensual novelists, offers up a lusciously written book of days. Days spent eating, drinking, cooking, and reading about the same. Life is Meals is also tudded with juicy gossip, high brow table talk, history anecdotes and fantastic recipes.
Kimberly Willson - St. Clair
I love this book! The stories and recipes and collected histories really apeal to me. This is a great marriage book since all of the meals revolve around the Salter's relationship and how it has developed over time over meals! I appreciate the paintings too!
This is a pleasant, desultory sort of read, full of interesting tidbits and occasionally not so interesting tidbits. It's a nice book to have on your coffee table if you're interested in food and wine, but don't go looking for tremendous depth here.
This is a day by day book. I read it sporadically last year and am now re-reading. I love it. Even the second time. I love cooking. I love food. I love the idea of life and friends and family and nourishment around meals.
An engaging mix of recipes, food history, food-related anecdotes, and sound cooking advice. It would be enjoyable to spend a year in Kay and James's company; after only a few weeks I feel I will miss them.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 34 35 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust
  • A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine
  • Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure
  • 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering
  • Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens
  • Indian Takeaway: One Man's Attempt to Cook His Way Home
  • American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza
  • The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast
  • A Love Affair With Southern Cooking: Recipes And Recollections
  • Canning & Preserving for Dummies
  • The Art of the Restaurateur
  • In the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food
  • The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer
  • A Book of Mediterranean Food
  • Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard
  • 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
  • Best Food Writing 2007
  • Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking (Arts & Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)
James Salter (1925 - 2015) was a novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. Salter grew up in New York City and was a career officer and Air Force pilot until his mid-thirties, when the success of his first novel (The Hunters, 1957) led to a fulltime writing career. Salter’s potent, lyrical prose earned him acclaim from critics, readers, and fellow novelists. His novel A Sport and a Pastime ( ...more
More about James Salter...
A Sport and a Pastime All That Is Light Years Last Night: Stories Dusk and Other Stories

Share This Book