''Cakewalk,'' ''Breaking Bread,'' and more cook books that also feed your soul

By Tina Jordan
May 21, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Breaking Bread Lynee Christy Anderson
The menu What is home cooking, anyway? To the Americans interviewed here — recent immigrants all — it isn’t apple pie but things like homemade corn tortillas and stews of pork, plantain, yucca, and calabaza.
The dish A lovely look at how food is intertwined with home, culture, and memory. B+

Cakewalk Kate Moses
The menu Her endlessly bickering parents made her childhood so miserable that, as Moses says, ”I looked for sweetness wherever I could find it” — mostly in desserts, which defined her life far more than her mother and father did.
The dish A rich, filling memoir that’s served without a tinge of bitterness. A-

Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life Kim Severson The menu After leaving the ”warmth and consistency” of her mother’s kitchen, Severson toppled headlong into alcoholism. But advice from famous cooks like Marcella Hazan and Alice Waters helped set her straight.
The dish As poignant and beautifully written as the book is, it suffers from being divided into chapters on the various chefs and would have worked better as a straight memoir. B

52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust William Alexander
The menu The man who wrote The $64 Tomato decided to bake his own bread from scratch — and not just any bread, mind you, but the perfect boule, which meant growing and threshing his own wheat and building a clay oven in his backyard.
The dish Nitpicking obsessiveness was never so appetizing. A-