Order Up: Delicious Novels With Food Sharing the Spotlight

Food drives the start of many life-long stories. Read on to discover some books with culinary themes.

Fiction Recommendations
Book jackets of Love & Saffron by Kim Fay, Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, and The Chicken Sisters by Kj Dell'antonia. In the background are tiny graphics of food and culinary tools.

Food not only serves as delicious subsistence, but it is also a point of connection between people, a significant part of culture, and a tool of healing. Once you hear it, cooking is a monumental language, and restaurants cultivate some of the most meaningful experiences to immerse oneself in. Few problems can’t be solved with a good meal and kitchen conversation with your loved ones. So, here are six gorgeous books with culinary themes.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold (Original) by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Book jacket of Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. Two dark brown wooden chairs with red floral cushions are placed on either side of a matching wood table. Two cups of coffee and lamp rest on the table. In front of the chair on the left sits a dark brown cat. The wall behind the table is blue with flowers.

Book one in the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series; this wistful novel takes place in a magical Tokyo cafe that lets its customers experience time travel. The only weighty catch is that customers’ fantastical journey ends once their coffee is cold. Four hopeful patrons bet on this folklore, unable to pass up the opportunity of a lifetime to reverse a moment in the past. Tales from the Cafe and Before Your Memory Fades introduce several more stories from other charming characters visiting this delightful, supernatural cafe.

Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay

Set in 1960s America, this novel provides a stunning portrayal of the intricacies of friendship. Novice food writer Joan Bergstrom is carving out a place for herself in Los Angeles and sends a fan letter to established columnist Imogen Fortier. Imogen, married and living just outside Seattle on Camano Island, finds solace in the packet of saffron and recipe accompanying the letter and reciprocates.

Book jacket of Love & Saffron by Kim Fay. On a table are a plate with eggs and a glass with red juice. Spare ingredients sit around them, including chestnuts, potato peels, artichokes, and a canvas tote bag.

From their correspondence blooms a beautiful, vulnerable friendship and a culinary journey that has these women traverse through bouts of nostalgia and harness newfound confidence. Yet ultimately, Imogen and Joan’s friendship is put to the test, begging the question of whether food and love are truly as healing as they say.

When in Rome: A Novel by Sarah Adams

This heartwarming romance novel follows celebrity Amelia Rose’s sudden holiday escape to Rome, Kentucky. When her car breaks down, the only person around is Noah Walker, an heir to a pie shop that, against his better judgment, lets seemingly diva Amelia take refuge in his guest room until her car gets fixed – and not a second more.

Book jacket of When in Rome by Sarah Adams. In a kitchen, a man and a woman prepare ingredients for a pit. On the table in front of them are a rolling pin, a finished pie slice on a small plate, loose berries, a fork, and fully baked pie.

Yet, as Noah is forced to spend more time with her, he begins to see the actual version of Amelia, who is quirky and adversely affected by years of publicity. Her presence in his life also indirectly pulls Noah out of his secure shell. Although Amelia must eventually return to life the way it was, she can’t help but fall in love with grumpy Noah and all of life’s simple pleasures he’s shown her in cozy, small-town Rome, Kentucky.

The Chicken Sisters by Kj Dell’antonia

An amusing story of sisterhood, The Chicken Sisters sees the result of two feuding families and their fried chicken restaurants. Chicken Mimi’s, owned by the Moore family, and Chicken Frannie’s, run by the Pogociellos, have been fighting for the title of best-fried chicken and fighting between themselves and their families, as well.

Amanda Moore, switching sides and marrying Frank Pogociello, attempts to end the feud once she’s devastatingly widowed. She sics reality TV treatment on the restaurants by calling up Food Wars, throwing the families into a competition for $100,000.

Book jacket of The Chicken Sisters by Kj Dell'antonia. Two women's hands, one with red nail polish and the other with green, pull on either side of a wish bone. Golden flowers frame the yellow background.

Mae Moore, Amanda’s sister, had left the chicken shop in Kansas to become a successful organizational influencer in Brooklyn. Yet, her life is turned upside down, and Mae returns to get Chicken Mimi back on its feet. She is determined to win the Food Wars competition. The sisters are pitted against one another, and this challenge reveals more than the best chicken restaurant in Kansas.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner List explores the beloved question, “If you could have anyone over for dinner, who would they be, and why?” At Sabrina’s 30th birthday, not only was her best friend in attendance, but so were the people who have changed the trajectory of her life, past and present, as well as the late celebrity Audrey Hepburn.

Book jacket of The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. Outlined in gold are six hands, dressed in clothes of varying times, toasting their wine glasses. In the front is a wine bottle.

Their purpose at Sabrina’s dinner is revealed as they eat through the courses, unearthing Sabrina’s motivation to choose them as the answer to the ultimate, infamous question. Both a visionary tale and romance novel, the comedic The Dinner List transcends all expectations.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

The remarkable story Like Water for Chocolate follows Tita, her family, and her life through food and recipes. This stunning novel begins at De la Garza ranch, where Tita’s mother, Mama Elena, prepares noodle soup ingredients. Mama Elena is pregnant with Tita, but suddenly, Tita’s crying forces Mama Elena into a surprise labor in the kitchen.

Book jacket of Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. A woman in a long white dress with a red flower in her hair prepares food in her hands in a colorfully tiled kitchen. Behind her is a table with ingredients, including a red pepper and bowl. Another woman sits with an ingredients basket, wearing a white and green dress with a red shawl.

Born amongst the soup’s spices, vegetables, and other ingredients, Tita has instilled in her an appreciation for food and cooking that she carries with her throughout her life, becoming a master chef. The intricacies of food preparation drive her philosophies in delicious, meaningful tales throughout the book.

Each book above is sure to be a satisfying, heartwarming, and fulfilling read. Paired with your favorite snack, drink, or comfort meal, you will indeed have a sensational, immersive read. Put one of these delicious novels on your TBR today!

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