Shopping & Reviews

Market Reads

By Betsy Andrews

Published on May 25, 2010

The great markets of the world have long inspired cookbook authors, writers, and photographers, many of whose books we found helpful in putting together our June/June 2010 issue. Some are feet-on-the-ground guides meant to help you navigate among vendors and attractions; others are in-depth histories or illustrated chronicles. Two of our favorites concern the same city. The first, The Markets of Paris by Dixon and Ruthanne Long (The Little Bookroom, 2006), is the perfect pocket guide to shopping in the City of Light; along with detailed descriptions of farmers' markets, antiques bazaars, and booksellers, it recommends market-adjacent restaurants where you can stop for a petit repas in the midst of your browsing. The second is of a more nostalgic bent: in the bittersweet Les Halles: The Stomach of Paris (Atlantis Books, 1964), poet Jacques Prevert and photographer Romain Urhausen lovingly document the life of the legendary wholesale market, which was founded in the 12th century and demolished in 1971. An equally artful paean to a single market is architect Victor Steinbrueck's Market Sketchbook (University of Washington Press, 1968), which consists of more than 200 pen-and-ink drawings of Seattle's 103-year-old Pike Place Market, as well as breezy, handwritten commentary that captures that fabled harborside marketplace well before Seattle's transformation into an upmarket-lifestyle city. Ethnographer Theodore Bestor delves into an even more fabled seafood mecca, this one in Tokyo, in Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World (University of California Press, 2004); Bestor examines the ways in which the world's largest fish market has helped to shape Japanese culture and cuisine, as well as global seafood consumption, since the early 17th century. Food critic Mimi Sheraton and photographer Nelli Sheffer take a more panoramic approach in Food Markets of the World (Harry N. Abrams, 1997), a breathtaking illustrated journey—complete with 29 recipes—to markets on six continents. It's enough to make you want to pack your bags and start exploring.

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