paul graham

in memory of bread

“The basic structure of Graham’s new memoir, In Memory of Bread, is the sometimes funny, sometimes poignant chronology of how he cured himself… His story is broadened and made far more interesting with a wide-ranging, well-researched dissertation on wheat, involving history, culture, chemistry and agriculture.”
The Washington Post

In Memory of Bread is a personal, cultural, and scientific exploration of civilization’s most significant food and our changing relationship to it in the era of "gluten-free." Paul Graham — a food writer and gourmand with a passion for bread and beer — became one of the gluten-free when, at thirty-six, he found himself in a northern New York hospital, suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding, precipitous weight loss, and a range of other symptoms so grim that his wife thought he was dying. His doctors diagnosed celiac disease.

Why are so many of us — by force or by choice — leaving behind bread and other cherished, wheat-related foods? Graham’s search for answers leads him in many directions: the industrial food chain, the potential impact of GMOs and wheat breeding, the volume of wheat we consume, advances in hygiene, and the gluten-free "frankenfoods" that manufacturers have started pushing in supermarkets. Eventually this quest leads him to his own backyard and neighboring farms.

Robbed of the true gourmand's pursuits (no tagliatelle in Italy, no pints of Guinness in Ireland, no ramen in Asia or even birthday cake in his own kitchen), Graham explores the sense of loss that comes when the foods that give us meaning are suddenly gone. In turn his commitment to community agriculture and locavorism deepens, and he reaches new insights about the relationship between our food, homes, bodies, and minds.

Paul Graham's essays appeared in the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Best Food Writing anthology. He received his MFA from Michigan and his BA from St. Lawrence University, where he is currently Associate Professor of English (and teaches a course on the history of food literature).

Published by Clarkson Potter in 2016.

More praise for In Memory of Bread:

“Paul Graham has written an account of saying farewell to a familiar pleasure that manages to combine an intelligent survey of modern agriculture with a touching story of a small but all-too-real grief. His book is an essay that does what essays should: combine a useful idea with a poignant moral.” 
— Adam Gopnik 

“A medical-culinary adventure story, by turns harrowing, enlightening, and thrillingly honest, In Memory of Bread is an elegy for the most elemental, essential food there is. Diagnosed with celiac disease and forced to rethink everything he's ever known about cooking and eating, Paul Graham has written a brilliant examination of the very meaning of food, memory, and desire.” — Luke Barr, author of Provence, 1970

“Paul Graham's adventures into the world of gluten-free eating are every bit as fascinating as those of A.J. Liebling and Julia Child into the gastronomy of Paris.” — Melissa Coleman, author of This Life Is in Your Hands

“Paul Graham's ability to transform his relationship with food and eating and the acceptance he's had to cultivate along the way are truly inspiring. I love how open and honest he is about his journey and know others will, too.” — Andie Mitchell, author of It Was Me All Along

“This book is a must read! This moving and beautifully written account of giving up the foods you love in order to heal and flourish is one of the best I have ever read.” — Anna Sobaski, founder and president of Breads from Anna

“In detailed and thoughtful prose, balancing the lyrical with the scientific, Graham illustrates how his deep connection to bread was challenged, and how his body was gravely poisoned by his glutinous true love.” — Publishers Weekly