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I’ve read some Gunter Grass, and even excerpted Local Anaesthetic here. I got my Thanksgiving stuffing recipe from him. Then a year plus ago New York Magazine mentioned The Flounder in a list of great food books. It seemed natural that I’d pick up a copy and now finally I have. This should be an interesting read. Here’s a sampling from the first pages:
I don’t know who Jay Rayner is. I don’t recognize his face on the cover of his book. And yet I bought it based on presumed shared interests. It’s called The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner. Rayner is the restaurant critic for The London Observer and in 2006 or ’07 maybe he decided to travel the world on his quest.
Thank you, Washington Post for at least giving readers a guide to buying fresh turkeys in the area this week. Not one mention of the most important food holiday of the year in the New York Times though it is only a month away now. The cooking magazines have been rolling in, a bird perched on each cover. Let the planning begin!
You may have noticed that I don’t often write about fish. It’s not a big part of my diet and cooked fish almost not at all. I love a crudo or some sushi every now and then, but I don’t know when I last bought fish to make at home…maybe smoked whitefish for a chowder six months ago. We always have some tinned sardines around and maybe some cheap caviar. But that’s the extent of it. All this is to say that it wasn’t the topic that drew me to Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food (Penguin Press, 2010).
My summer reading started off well, but it’s taken a turn for the worse. That third Ruth Reichl book, Garlic and Sapphires, proved one too many. A book deal over-extended. It’s all about the silly costumes Reichl wore as a New York Times restaurant reviewer and what she learned about herself wearing them. Seriously.
Last year I read Ruth Reichl’s first food memoir, Tender at the Bone, and loved it. She’s becoming this summer’s Stieg Larsson for me–as in I close one book and go on to the next. I’ve finished Comfort Me with Apples (2001) and am now diving into Garlic and Sapphires (2005). I can’t stress enough that Reichl’s books make excellent gifts (especially for any Baby Boomer you know who is into food and perhaps used to be a hippie–I gave my mother Tender at the Bone.)
There’s a great used book store I like to go to when I visit Connecticut in the summer. Traditionally I head for their food section and stock up for the year, but this summer I detoured to the children’s books. And I discovered a lot of overlap. There was Popcorn, Pizza, Pasta, and Panda Cake and that was just in the “P” box. I found I gravitated to the food-related titles and the two I came home with both ended up surprising and amusing me.
Having just finished Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend, a 1944 novel about an alcoholic’s binge, there’s not a lot to take away. It was at times a fun read, but certainly it’s not for everyone. I got turned on to it by a mention in Kingsley Amis’ Everyday Drinking. I hear it was made into a terrible movie of the same name in 1945.
I’ve been reading all the recent food magazines and the fish wraps, but nothing has been making much of an impact. Could it be that making my way through Calvin Trillin’s The Tummy Trilogy has set the bar a bit higher?
I can’t do it. I can’t read Adam Gopnik’s new food book The Table Comes First. It was a year ago that Supertastes debuted and in that first post I noted a recent Gopnik piece in The New Yorker about avant garde desserts. I badly wanted to write about how hubris can lead a writer to suppose he can write about food, but in the end I self-censored.