Some lost, hard-to-find (but worth it) classics:
THE BELLY OF PARIS--Emil Zola (Anarchist Devil's Island escapee becomes food inspector in 19th century Les Halles. Slowly starves in midst of mountains of lushly, even pornographically described
FLASH IN THE PAN--David Blum ( Non fiction. Egomaniacal New York restaurateur allows journalist to observe the planning, opening, operating--and hdeous screwing up of a new restaurant. Priceless, true and very, very funny in an 'Oh My God I've been here' sort of way)
HOTEL BEMELMANS-Ludwing Bemelmans ( The restaurant hotel underbelly's original bad-boy. Ex waiter, busboy, back-stairs hustler--and later artist/author of famed Madeline books--describes the joys and horrors of the New York grand hotel business. Soon to be reprinted with intro from yours truly. Funny, true and fascinating .)
HIGH BONNET--Idwal Jones (Also with intro by yours truly. Food crazed chefs, waiters and gourmandes careen through early 20th century Paris in search of culinary kicks. Also rise of young chef. Incredible descriptions of food..refreshingly non-snobby appreciation of the good things in life-and again--funny.)
THE KITCHEN--Nicolas Freeling (The autobiography of a chef--set in Paris and England--and in many ways better than Orwell's similar adventures. Unparalleled account of the restaurant subculture and the nuts and bolts of professional cooking)
I push these books on people whenever and wherever I can. Professionals in particular will be enthralled and amused. But some still very difficult to find as most are out of print. Used copies CAN be found on line with persistence. Worth the effort.
Good reading! A Bourdain