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Best Thing I Ever Tasted: The Secret of Food

3.1 of 5 stars 3.10  ·  rating details  ·  102 ratings  ·  23 reviews
An "engaging and delectable" (Chicago Tribune) meditation on the secret of food -- what we choose to eat, when we decide to eat it, and why.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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Frank Jude
Sep 15, 2009 Frank Jude rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: yogis, activists, people who eat.....
Sallie Tisdale writes books that are pretty impossible to categorize, and that's what's so darn good about them! In this one, Tisdale offers a melange of memoir, social history of food, cooking and the fashion of food, philosophical rumination and social critique.

Throughout, she offers many fascinating facts about food, the sociology of food and food preparation, but the fact that she is a Buddhist teacher, though Buddhism is never mentioned, comes through in her reminding us of the significance
May 03, 2007 Tracy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who love food, culture
This book traces the evolution of technology and how it influenced our culture's view of cooking and food and does so in a wonderful way. Anyone interested in The Omnivore's Dilemna should also check this out. Anyone who has tasted a supermarket tomato and wondered why it doesn't taste like the tomato from a roadside vegetable stand will develop an increasing appreciation for how wonderful fresh food can be. But unlike many food critics, ST also has a fond memory and loving appreciation for the ...more
At times pointless and rambling, the author skewers practically anyone who ever cooked a meal - from the hunter gatherers to Alice Waters. She uses Julia Child to send up Martha Stewart as in:

"Julia Child, for all the years of complaints about her technique (!) has never failed to express her firm belief that good food is part of a well-lived life with rough edges and a few untidy corners. She is a woman of appetitie and undenied pleasure. Martha Stewart's vision of a well-lived life has no unti
I could cut this book into thirds. One third was an interesting and informative historical look at the development of certain food trends, like Betty Crocker. One was a poignant look at the author's food history and how it related to her family, both past and present.

Unfortunately, a too-large chunk of this book is devoted to the author's musings on large questions of food, globalization and other issues that I don't think anyone could successfully unpack in a book twice this size. The author's
I enjoyed this a lot, although it's a bit of a mishmash of different foodie genres. Tisdale looks critically at the American food supply and diet (like Michael Pollan) and how it got that way (like Laura Shapiro) while also acknowledging some of the legitimate reasons convenience foods have taken hold and how they symbolize freedom to women (like Barbara Enhrenreich) and giving credit to the mysterious pleasures and attractions of food that is, objectively, crap. And yet somehow it's more than t ...more
I enjoyed pieces of this book such as the first person narratives and memoir sections, but I couldn't get an overall sense of who this author was, as I have never read anything by her before. I also enjoyed reading about how Betty Crocker was not a real person, and how recipes have changed throughout the years of Joy of Cooking depending on food trends and health views. I feel this could have been an interesting book on its own. I read this after finishing Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ...more
Sandy D.
Wonderful non-fiction - such sensuous writing, and a great combination of personal and historical info. If you've ever pondered what food means - socially, culturally, historically, and what changes in what we eat in the 20th-21st century mean - then this would be a great book for you.

It touches on marketing, leisure saving devices, convenience foods, restaurants and Nouvelle cuisine, gender roles & food, Betty Crocker, dieting - just fascinating and all over the place, which is also one of
We've all been told "never judge a book by its cover", and sadly that is true here. Based on the title, I was expecting (and hoping for) a book like Laurie Colwin's "Home Cooking", but I was sadly disappointed. Like many other reviewers, I only finished about half of the book because I was very tired of the author's whining. I kept waiting for the good part where she told us about the best thing(s) she ever tasted, but she wasn't writing a food memoir. I'm not really sure what she was writing ab ...more
Karen Todd Hagen
Though the description of the book sounded quite interesting, I just couldn't get into it. Maybe another time...
I checked this book out hoping it would be stories about wonderful food experiences. I'm having to go by title/cover art alone these days in the library since I usually have a baby in my arms. Anyways, what I didn't want was a well-researched diatribe on how evil I am for being an American and how this means I have no food culture. Also, how white flour is a plot to appeal to my racist sensibilities and make everyone fat. I read 80 pages and then got too mad to read anymore and took it back.
christina white
Mar 21, 2007 christina white rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women everywhere, especially folks who have a love/hate relationship with food
This book is in a newly emerging genre of food literature. It is deeply thoughtful about the food we eat, where it comes from, its history, and the relationships we develop with it. She expands her discussion of food to the larger market trends, discussing the big box problems of Walmart and others. This book is not statistical or analytical, however, but rather deeply thoughtful prose.
This book gave me a lot to think about, and I'm still digesting it. I never realized how long ago 'convenience' foods began coming into our lives. Long before I was born or my mom for that matter. What is a regional cuisine? Or are there any out there anymore? Lots of food for thought in this book (sorry I couldn't resist ;-}
It took me a while to get through this, as it wasn't really all that exciting. Food, you'd think I'd just jam right through it. In the book Tisdale mixes scholarly research examples with personal stories and observations to discuss the changing landscape of food over the past hundred years or so.
Lots of interesting info about food, and some memoir type info thrown in, but it meanders a bit much. Enjoyable, but not as good as some of the other food lit I've been reading lately.
Jan 17, 2010 Anna added it
Really enjoyable --- a psychology of food, a history of the 60's in bad cuisine, a compassionate appreciation of other peoples tastes
This was a broader overview of food than I expected - more general history and sociology, rather than the memoir I was expecting.
Jul 23, 2011 Pea. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
a bit academic... a bit conversational... all together interesting.
the last page being the best.
taylor cocalis
history, economics, geography, culture, personal anecdotes, pleasure. . .this book has it all.
I wanted to like it. I really did. It has its moments of excellence, and of whininess.
Charles Seluzicki
Once again, the personal essay extended, explored, in no way diminished-
this was a great cultural perspective book.
Fairly boring.
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