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Books, Food Fiction, World

Food Novels: Books for Food Lovers from Around The World

While my first loves are travel and reading, my next is most definitely food! This list of food novels from around the globe is a celebration of these three things; combining reading, travel and food. Food and cooking are such an essential part of culture; offering unique insights to how others live and celebrating the diversity of the world. Yum! 🍋

The books listed below are sorted by country, aiming to capture a broad perspective of food cultures worldwide. The books are pretty widely varied; the list includes novels, memoirs and non-fiction alike, with themes ranging from philosophy through to expat tales. This is the ultimate list of food literature, full of book ideas for travelers, foodies and readers alike (making them excellent gifts too!)

If you have titles to suggest (especially for countries not yet included) please let me know in the comments below. This list is a constant work in progress and I’d love to add them. I hope this list might just inspire your next delicious read!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

The Shortlist

If you’re short on time, here is a short selection of notable titles from below:

  1. Chocolat by Joanne Harris (France)
  2. The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir by Tom Stone (Greece)
  3. The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure by Shoba Narayan (India)
  4. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (Italy)
  5. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (Japan)
  6. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Mexico)
  7. Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin (Rwanda)
  8. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (United States)

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World Food Novels

This list includes a diverse range of books. There are stories immersed in specific cuisines and ingredients; about food and beverages. Tales of growing up with traditions and food culture crossing oceans. Novels that take place in kitchens, markets, cafes, restaurants and stalls around the globe. Characters and authors that are home cooks, chefs, critics and eaters alike. Narratives that tell tales of travel, include recipes and mouth-watering descriptions that will leave you hungry. Bon appetit!

Argentina Food Novels

2015: Driving Hungry: A Memoir by Layne Mosler (set in Buenos Aires, New York and Berlin)

Belgium Food Novels

1933: Cheese by Willem Elsschot (set in Antwerp)

See the full list of Books Set In Belgium

Canada Food Novels

1969: The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood (set in Toronto)
2007: Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith, J.B. MacKinnon (set in Vancouver)

Caribbean Food Novels

2003: An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof

China Food Novels

1987: The Gourmet and Other Stories of Modern China by Wenfu Lu
1989: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (also set in California)
1990: The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian
1991: The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan (also set in California)
2003: POW! by Mo Yan
2007: The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
2007: All the Tea in China by Jane Orcutt (also set in England)
2008: Shark’s Fin And Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop
2010: Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself by Ann Mah
2011: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe (set in Macau)
2017: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

See the full list of Books Set in China

Egypt Food Novels

1999: Apricots on the Nile: A Memoir with Recipes by Colette Rossant (set in Cairo)

England Food Novels

1933: Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (set in London and Paris)
2002: The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (set in London and New York)
2007: All the Tea in China by Jane Orcutt (also set in China)
2007: The Chocolate Lovers’ Club by Carole Matthews (set in London)
2008: The Various Flavours Of Coffee by Anthony Capella (set in London)
2009: In the Kitchen by Monica Ali (set in London)
2011: A Taste of the Sun by Elizabeth David
2011: Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan (set in London)
2012: John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk
2013: An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey (also set in France and Italy)
2015: A Taste for Nightshade by Martine Bailey

Ethiopia Food Novels

2012: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson (set in Sweden, Ethiopia, New York, Switzerland, France)

France Food Novels

This is a shortlist, see our full list of French Food Fiction

1873: The Belly of Paris by Émile Zola (set in Paris)
1964: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (set in Paris)
1989: A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (set in Provence)
1999: Chocolat by Joanne Harris
2000: Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery
2001: Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
2006: My Life in France by Julia Child (set in Paris)
2008: The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais (set in Lumière)
2009: The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz (set in Paris)
2013: Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah

Germany Food Novels

2012: The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy (also set in Texas)
2011: The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena
2015: Driving Hungry: A Memoir by Layne Mosler (set in Buenos Aires, New York and Berlin)

See the full list of Books Set in Germany

Greece Food Novels

2002: The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir by Tom Stone
2013: Honey, Olives, Octopus: Adventures at the Greek Table by Christopher Bakken
2014: Afternoons In Ithaka by Spiri Tsintziras

See the full list of Books Set In Greece

India Food Novels

2003: Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes by Shoba Narayan (also set in New York)
2005: Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey
2008: Chef by Jaspreet Singh (set in Kashmir)
2011: Notes From Madras by Arthur Robert K. Wyvern
2013: The Abundance by Amit Majmudar (set in Ahmedebad and Ohio)
2014: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev (set in Ypsilanti, Michigan and Mumbai, India)
2018: The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure by Shoba Narayan

See the full list of Books Set in India

Indonesia Food Novels

2014: The Birdwoman’s Palate by Laksmi Pamuntjak
2014: Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: or, The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History by Giles Milton

See the full list of Books Set in Indonesia

Iran Food Novels

2011: Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan (set in Iran, California and Paris)
2014: The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec
2017: The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan (set in San Francisco and Tehran)

Ireland Food Novels

2002: Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch
2006: Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
2008: Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran (sequel to Pomegranate Soup)

See the full list of Books Set in Ireland

Italy Food Novels

This is a shortlist, see our full list of Italian Food Fiction

1996: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (set in Tuscany)
1996: Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb
2000: La Cucina by Lily Prior (set in Sicily)
2004: The Food of Love by Anthony Capella
2004: A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure by Marlena de Blasi (set in Tuscany)
2006: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (also set in Indonesia and India)
2007: The Book of Unholy Mischief (aka The Chef’s Apprentice) by Elle Newmark (set in Venice)
2013: Appetite by Philip Kazan (set in Florence)
2013: Margherita’s Notebook by Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti (set in Roccafitta)
2013: An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey (also set in England)

See the full list of Books Set in Italy

Japan Food Novels

1988: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (set in Tokyo, Izu, Isehara)
1998: My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki (also set in America)
2001: The Gourmet Club by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (one short story in this collection is about food)
2008: The Restaurant of Love Regained by Ito Ogawa
2016: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (set in Tokyo)
2017: The Meaning of Rice: And Other Tales from the Belly of Japan by Michael Booth

See the full list of Books Set in Japan

Jordan Food Novels

2005: The Language of Baklava: A Memoir by Diana Abu-Jaber (also set in New York)

Malaysia Food Novels

2015: Hungry in Ipoh by Hadi M. Nor
2016: The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

See the full list of Books Set in Malaysia

Mexico Food Novels

1989: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
2001: The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie (set in other countries too)
2015: Umami by Laia Jufresa (set in Mexico City)
2018: Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico by Ron Cooper

See the full list of Books Set in Mexico

Monaco Food Novels

2011: White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby (set in Monte Carlo and Paris)

Netherlands Food Novels

2001: Mangoes and Quince: A Novel by Carol Field (set in Amsterdam)
2003: The Coffee Trader by David Liss (set in Amsterdam)
2009: The Dinner by Herman Koch (set in Amsterdam, not food-centric but set in a restaurant)

See the full list of Books Set in Amsterdam

Norway Food Novels

1958: Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen (set in Berlevåg)

Poland Food Novels

1977: The Flounder by Günter Grass (set in Gdansk)
2011: Rose Petal Jam: Recipes and Stories from a Summer in Poland by Beata Zatorska
2013: Sugared Orange: Recipes & Stories from a Winter in Poland by Beata Zatorska

Portugal Food Novels

1991: Requiem: A Hallucination by Antonio Tabucchi

See the full list of Books Set in Portugal

Rwanda Food Novels

2009: Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin (set in Kigali)
2013: A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda by Josh Ruxin (set in Kigali)

Russia Food Novels

2010: Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (a spy novel with recipes at the end of each chapter)
2013: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya von Bremzen

Singapore Food Novels

2014: Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirstin Chen (also set in San Francisco)

South Africa Food Novels

2015: Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew

See the full list of Books Set in South Africa

South Korea Food Novels

2007: The Vegetarian by Han Kang
2007: Tongue by Kyung-ran Jo
2008: Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home by Kim Sunée (also set in New Orleans and France)

See the full list of Books Set in South Korea

Spain Food Novels

1999: Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucía by Chris Stewart
2002: Bread and Oil by Tomas Graves
2003: It’s Not About The Tapas by Polly Evans
2007: A Late Dinner: Discovering the Food of Spain by Paul Richardson

See the full list of Books Set in Spain

Sweden Food Novels

2012: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson (set in Sweden, Ethiopia, New York, Switzerland, France)

Turkey Food Novels

2011: Soufflé by Asli E. Perker (set in Istanbul, New York and Paris)

See the full list of Books Set in Turkey

United States Food Novels

This is a shortlist, see our full list of American Food Fiction

1987: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg (set in Alabama)
2007: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (set in North Carolina)
2009: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (set in Seattle)
2010: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (set in Los Angeles)
2010: The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate (set in Maine)
2014: Delicious: A Novel by Ruth Reichl (set in New York)
2015: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert (set in Milwaukee)
2015: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (set in Minnesota)
2016: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (set in New York)
2017: Sourdough by Robin Sloan (set in San Francisco)

See the full list of Books Set in America

International Food Novels

1994: The Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin (all around America)
1997: The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten (all over the world)
2001: A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain (all over the world)
2001: Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton (France, Greece, Turkey, New York)
2002: It Must’ve Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten (sequel to The Man Who Ate Everything)
2004: Spice: The History of a Temptation by Jack Turner (all over the world)
2008: Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant by Jenni Ferrari-Adler (essay collection)
2010: Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life by Kim Severson (all over the world)
2011: Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey (New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, Paris)
2018: The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery and Paris by Jackie Kai Ellis (Vancouver, Paris, Congo, Italy)
2018: The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats by Daniel Stone (all over the world)

Bonus: Other Food Novels

1964: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (setting is never named)
2013: Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown (set on a pirate ship!)

What do you think of these food novels?

Do you know some great food novels that I’ve missed? Have you ever travelled just for food? (I have!) What’s your favorite foodie destination? I’d love to hear your thoughts on food novels in the comments below!

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4 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply SugarBitz July 9, 2019 at 2:31 am

    Hi,

    I love this list. Have a few suggestions that you may wish to include:
    1) Duck Season: Eating, Drinking and Other Misadventures in Gascony, France’s Last Best Place – by David McAninch
    2) Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) – by Amy Thomas
    3) The World on a Plate: 40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes, and the Stories Behind Them – by Mina Holland

    • Avatar
      Reply Ash at Tale Away July 10, 2019 at 9:31 am

      Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for these wonderful and thoughtful additions. I’m putting together an even more extensive list on French novels about food, as there are just so many! I especially like the sound of the last one, mostly because it travels the world 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Nic August 7, 2019 at 3:42 am

    I have one for Scotland for you: The Cafe by The Sea by Jenny Colgan. United States: The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee, Delicious by Ruth Reichl and The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller.

    • Avatar
      Reply Ash at Tale Away October 12, 2019 at 11:14 pm

      Hi Nic, thanks so much for sharing these amazing suggestions! I must admit, I was so overwhelmed by the amount of food-themed books from the United States, that I put together another article dedicated to American Food Fiction. You might enjoy it, as it includes all of your suggestions, and many more too! 🙂

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