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

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  418 Ratings  ·  74 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
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Carol
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, cookery
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
...more
Tuck
Jun 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: wine-and-food, europa
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
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, food
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
Laura
Oct 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Lori
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011september
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.
Noah
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Carrie
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a great concept and collection authored by the esteemed writers James Salter and his wife Kay (Eldredge). It originated conceptually from their own "dinner book" of keeping track of meals they prepared and hosted in their Aspen home. That evolved from simple meal lists and tweaked recipes to include anecdotes, reflections on the guests, commentary on the occasion and all manner of personal record to become quite a family keepsake. That in itself is a great idea - if I entertained more or ...more
Audrey
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: never-finished
due back at library before I could finish it.
Bodine Dekkers
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
just highly enjoyed this book :)
Ionut
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I know James Salter for his other books that center around strong male and female characters (The Hunters, All that is, etc). He once wrote in a piece for Esquire magazine called "Younger Women, Older Men" that: "man’s dream and ambition is to have women, as a cat’s is to catch birds, but this is something that must be restrained". A lot of his previous work can be captured with that phrase. This book is completely different and that is one of the reasons I found it interesting. It is authored b ...more
Kayla
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I first heard about this book on the Book Riot podcast, and it sounded like something I would definitely enjoy: a book written by food lovers about food? Sign me up! I got a used hardcover edition with a nice little ribbon attached for a bookmark (I love books that have that), and the illustrations are beautiful (I wish there were more of them; the painted food looks better than real life).

The Salters arranged this book so that there is one subject for each of the 365 days in the year (366 actu
...more
Madeline
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jason Bergman
This book is really just a series of anecdotes more or less related to food, organized like a calendar, one per day for an entire year. It reads a bit like a dinner conversation with the most interesting guests in the world.

Some of the bits are better than others, but on the whole, they're quite good. It makes for an unusual book to read start to finish, but I was captivated.

Most sections are authored by both James and Kay (herself an accomplished writer) but there are several that are signed
...more
Peggy Lo
Apr 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
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
...more
Georgie
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Theresa
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Allyson
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jessi
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
"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
Marilyn
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Elizabeth
Jan 03, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Juan Cavelier
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable. Filed with fascinating data about food and places in the US and Europe, France in particular. Lots of historical information related to food of course. It is the sort of book that you can read anytime anywhere without being obliged to remember what you have read before. It includes some recipes that you feel like trying at home.
Katie Wooten
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Bryan Mullalley
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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!
Vuk Trifkovic
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
A very special book. Slightly rambling, slightly inconsistent, full of warmth and fascinating trivia. It's like having a wonderful, kind godparents or neighbours that you often wish were your real family.

If you going to buy it - make it a hardback. Nice binding & wonderful paper doing justice to great illustrations.
Dmalosh
Jul 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Martha
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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..............
Angela
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
A nice mash up of anecdotes, history, and recipes. I enjoyed it, even though the stories and topics were sometimes pretty snobby. It was often humorous (sometimes in a first-world-problems type of way). My favorite parts were the stories of them trying to find or make the best whatever: sausage, baguettes, pizza, etc.
Lesley
Nov 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Krista Schrock
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Meredith Walker
This is a charming, interesting tour through a year of foodie facts and stories. Here is an entry, diary-like for each day of the year, taking audiences through culinary facts and wisdom as diverse as origins of the Kellogg logo, the Titanic’s menu and the cherry spitting world record.
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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
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