Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Soup Peddler, What Are You Reading?

I read David Ansel’s book, The Soup Peddler’s Slow and Difficult Soups, when it appeared in 2005 and then met him in person for the first time last year at a local food blogger potluck which he and his wife hosted. The book tells the story of The Soup Peddler business that David started in 2002. He emailed some friends, offered to bring them soup, and he delivered it with his bike. These days, The Soup Peddler offers not only soups but entrees, side dishes, and desserts, and the delivery area has been significantly widened with the use of other vehicles. This fall, David will be opening a soup and juice kiosk with Matt Shook founder of Daily Juice. 'Juicebox and Soup Peddler' will be located at the corner of South Lamar and Manchaca. He’ll also be launching wholesale soups sold to restaurants and coffeeshops this fall. Despite the exciting new projects keeping him busy, I knew David would have a great answer when I asked him what are you reading?

I think there's a lot more to enriching your cooking mind than just reading about food. There are indirect ways and means of broadening your culinary experience that have more to do with culture, spirit, family, arts, religion, community, fortune, misfortune, growth, quest, or emotion than they do with emulsion, fond, umami, or crispy-on-the-outside-juicy-on-the-inside.

That said, I don't read nearly as much about food as I used to, and when I do, I look for writers who can convey those themes I mentioned above with vigor and ease. The last book that really hit me in that regard was The Soul Of A Chef. Ruhlman rules because nobody in this genre combines strong wordcraft and depth of feeling with culinary knowhow like he does, except probably Bill Buford. I think there's something about mashing up journalism and culinary that produces these special works.

As far as non-culinary goes, I'm reading That Old Ace In The Hole by Annie Proulx. My first read of hers, and I'm very impressed. I feel like I'm in good hands. I just finished Under A Hoodoo Moon by Mac Rebennack (Dr. John). I'm chipping away at The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin between other books.

I always have a stack of cookbooks on my desk at work, and I'd say that my go-to book right now is Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. He has such a non-holy approach to things, I'm glad he seems to be holding strongly to that as his star rises. It makes him the closest thing to an everyman cook, the way no chef could be. People who inspire curiosity and joy in culinary are ultimately the ones that we need the most to help re-invigorate the can-do culinary spirit in our country and put the dreck purveyors out of business. So my money is on Bittman.

Thank you for participating, David! Check back to see who answers the question next time and what other books are recommended.

Previous WAYR posts:
Jaden Hair
Michael Ruhlman
Monica Bhide
Michael Natkin
Sara Roahen
Andrea Nguyen
David Lebovitz
Rick Bayless
Tara Austen Weaver
Mollie Katzen
Deborah Madison


  1. I always dream of my own food business - biking to deliver homecooked food/meals to homes. I cook and my husband bikes...hahha!

  2. David Ansel must be a genius to think of an idea like that and turn it into a successful bussiness.

  3. "The Soul of a Chef'' is one of my all-time favorite books, not just cooking-related books. The insight is spot-on and the prose is beautiful.

  4. Nice post! David is certainly an eclectic reader!


Blogging tips