The New York Times

The Shortlist: Culinary Memoirs

“The Bread and the Knife: A Life in 26 Bites”

By Dawn Drzal

257 pages. Arcade. $19.99.

Culinary memoirists often seem torn between telling a story and sharing their favorite dishes. As befits a former cookbook editor, Drzal centers the food, offering us an alphabet of 26 gastronomical essays ranging from “Al Dente” to “Zucchini Blossoms.” A sprinkling of recipes completes the collection.

Reading these evocative pieces feels like pulling old Polaroids out of a shoe box. “F” is for “Fowl,” a freshly shot pheasant Drzal cooks for . The result is so tasteless and tough that Fisher nearly chokes to death. “L” is the exquisite lobster roll Drzal springs for

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