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Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink
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Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink

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4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  881 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
A sample of the menu: Woody Allen on dieting the Dostoevski way • Roger Angell on the art of the martini • Don DeLillo on Jell-O • Malcolm Gladwell on building a better ketchup • Jane Kramer on the writer’s kitchen • Chang-rae Lee on eating sea urchin • Steve Martin on menu mores • Alice McDermott on sex and ice cream • Dorothy Parker on dinner conversation • S. J. Perelma ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by Modern Library (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Greg
May 21, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't read the New Yorker every week for the last 70 years, this is a good way to catch up on the food articles. The subject is captivating for any foodie, but the writing grabs anyone who has ever eaten. Many of the articles written in the 30s or 40s seems like they could have been published today.
Andy
Feb 25, 2008 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This one was a very enjoyable compendium of food and drink articles from the New Yorker Magazine. I particularly enjoyed some of the looks back at restaurant life in the 40s and 50s, and some of the more modern reviews of food and drink. If you enjoy this kind of stuff, I definitely recommend it.
Christopher
Fantastic writing about discovering the pleasures of the palette...what could be better??? I read the "New Yorker" every week, but I look forward to their annual "Food Issue" with great anticipation. This collection will make you drool.
Amy
Mar 05, 2008 Amy marked it as unfinished-business  ·  review of another edition
I have little hope of finishing this one during the brief time allotted to me by our local public library. I actually can't even finish an issue of The New Yorker in the time allotted, let alone this fatty fat food book.
Maureen Flatley
Mar 29, 2008 Maureen Flatley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no down side to this book. It's the perfect night table reading, especially if you love food. You can dip in and out but every essay is wonderful!
Madhulika Liddle
Dec 04, 2014 Madhulika Liddle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’d been scouting for Christmas presents, and spotting Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink, figured this might make a good gift for someone I know whose reading largely consists of non-fiction, and who is both an excellent cook as well as generally interested in food. I bought it, therefore, and (since I share that fondness, both for food as well as for non-fiction), decided to read the book before I wrapped it and bunged it under the tree.

Edited by the New Yorker’s editor
...more
Stephanie
I commute ten hours a week, so I download a lot of audiobooks: the longer, the better. So, when I found this 20-hour compendium, I was elated. This only goes to show that I am an idiot. I'm the equal to the guy who watched Star Wars for the first time on a 13 inch black-and-white television. People who write for The New Yorker write prose that begs to be read. It is not performance art; it is visual. I should know that, but apparently I took all leave of my senses. So, I listed to all 20 hours o ...more
Eric
Mar 17, 2011 Eric rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing, and so much fun. I read it straight through, and I wish it were longer so that I could read more! It makes you realize that food is so essential to life, and often I would not even remember an article was about food, being so drawn in to reading about its pivotal role in our lives. Highly recommend for anyone who cares about food. Or life, for that matter.
Pearse Anderson
This was a bible of good food writing. And, like the Bible, it had some slow and poor parts, but when it worked it worked so well, and when it didn't it didn't for only a handful of pages. Although this took half a year to finish I was really glad I didn't skim through it. My copy is worn, breaking, covered in stains and marks. Good. I'll be happy to pass it along to the next recipient.
Thaddeus Croyle
Mar 24, 2008 Thaddeus Croyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Considering how thick this was, I only skipped one article (not counting the few I'd already read elsewhere).
Larissa
Jun 06, 2012 Larissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been working my way through this collection of New Yorker essays (there's fiction, too, but that's not why I picked it up) at a pretty good clip. This is a wonderful collection, interesting not only for the variety of food essays and styles of writing (OMG--long form journalism!), but also because it provides a sort of snapshot of The New Yorker from the 30s through the present day. I am not a regular reader of the magazine--or really, of any magazine or journal or newspaper (I'm appallingl ...more
Christa Sigman
Mar 13, 2017 Christa Sigman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
This is a fantastic collection of New Yorker essays. I found myself reading passages out loud to my husband. I also booked several to read again, or to encourage my family to read.
Cathy
Jul 10, 2009 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, foodie
This was a lot of fun, New Yorker pieces about (or at least somehow related to) food and wine, from the '20s to the 2000s. Highlights included a long profile of Euell Gibbons, who turns out to be incredibly interesting; several M.F.K. Fisher essays I'd never read; a nice piece about Julia Child; and more than I ever dreamed of knowing about artisanal tofu. There's also a hilarious dinner-party vignette from Dorothy Parker. And then there's the terrific essay from Change Rae Lee about trying sea ...more
RuthAnn
Jan 14, 2009 RuthAnn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would recommend: Yes, but not to be read straight through

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection of essays. It's a bit hefty (500+ pages) to read from cover to cover, as I did, and I don't recommend that. As I expected, the pieces are well-written, thorough, and usually humorous. It was nice to read from authors I'd only heard in legend, and reprinted cartoons are a nice brain break between sections.

I gave myself license to skip anything I didn't like, and I only skipped three things on accou
...more
Kathleen
Mar 29, 2009 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read the first 6 essays --about 1/3 of the book. So far, it is a complete delight. I have been transported to France -- Provence and Paris. I have luxuriated in the descriptions of le grand cuisine of the pre-WW II variety. I have been reminded of meals we had in the Rhine Valley as well as in Paris, when we were young (and thin). MFK Fisher has treated me to tales from California. Anthony Bourdain has weighed in. Recently, I finished a swell piece of writing concerning Paul and Julia Chi ...more
Sean
Jan 20, 2008 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started out slow, picked up pace with exciting and interesting articles, then kinda fizzled out at the end. Loved the articles which explored interesting and unheard of delicacies. Even enjoyed articles about food processes I knew very little about, ie; cheese nun, the art of tofu. Also, very much enjoyed the Julia Childs article/bio, but overall found the entire collection together to be lacking. I find the New Yorker always has such interesting food-related articles, that it was kind of a let- ...more
Nancy
Mar 17, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it
This is a perfect bedtime read for anyone who is interested in social history, food and the art of dining. New Yorker articles from the 1930's to the present showcase the terrific writing and wit that has distinguished the magazine and its writers for decades.

The book includes short (and longer) articles from notable foodies like M.F.K. Fisher, humorists such as Steve Martin and Woody Allen, and literary luminaries like John Cheever (on "The Sorrows of Gin"!)and Julian Barnes.

This is not the kin
...more
Leela Pal Chaudhuri
Jan 27, 2016 Leela Pal Chaudhuri rated it liked it
Gourmand, gourmet, foodie? You will love this collection of pieces on food from all over the world, especially Europe, America and the Far East. India is surprisingly not represented!
More appetizing for carnivores with an adventurous palate which includes rabbits, rats, hares, ducks, pigeons etc etc! Yeah, I squirmed a bit, but the elegance, humor and research involved in the writings kept me going! From wild food to cheese, and the finest of French cuisine, from the early 20 century onwards - a
...more
Kristen Northrup
Dec 29, 2007 Kristen Northrup rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, food, anthology
This took six months to read but that's not unusual for anthologies. They're easy to just dip into once in a while, between longer reading. Overall, some great/classic selections. I'd already read about a third, but re-read every piece regardless. No poetry, although I know they've published some. The humor pieces weren't particularly funny (just very snide), but that's true for that section of the magazine these days in general, so the resulting pieces were what you'd expect from that editorial ...more
Holly Cline
Jun 18, 2011 Holly Cline rated it liked it
This compilation has a nice, wide range of pieces from The New Yorker that in some way or another deal with food. Of course, as with anything of this kind, some pieces are excellent while others leave something to be desired. Among my favorites: all 3 by Calvin Trillin, good old foraging John McPhee, The Fruit Detective, the one about Pasternack, Ketchup, and Roald Dahl's little story. I was not such a fan of the pieces that seemed to say, I'm a snobby snob snob that eats only the finest French ...more
Alyce
Jun 04, 2008 Alyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Extremely entertaining, informative, and extraordinarily well-written collection of the best food writing to be found anywhere. This is a book to savor, for it is sublime. John McPhee's (1968) recount of a foraging expedition with Euell Gibbons is reason enough to buy the book; who knew that the "Grape Nuts guy" was such an interesting person? Joseph Mitchell's (1939) story of the clams from the Great South Bay is just as engaging, as are the stories by Woody Allen, MFK Fisher, Calvin Trillin, A ...more
Yvette
Nov 13, 2010 Yvette marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Last Book I Read (Isaac Mizrahi) . . . It's really, really good. There's this thing in there on casseroles that I loved."
Secret Ingredients, The New Yorker Book of Food & Drink

Since its earliest days, The New Yorker has been a tastemaker–literally. As the home of A. J. Liebling, Joseph Wechsberg, and M.F.K. Fisher, who practically invented American food writing, the magazine established a tradition that is carried forward today by irrepressible literary gastronomes, including Calvin Trillin
...more
Ashley
Jul 15, 2010 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this collection of articles from The New Yorker. I'd say that about 80% were up my alley, but it was easy enough to skip over the ones that were just too blah. Some of my favorites included "All You Can Hold for Five Bucks" by Joseph Mitchell, "Don't Eat Before Reading This" by Anthony Bourdain, "The Secret Ingredient" and "Nor Censure Nor Disdain" by M.F.K. Fisher, "The Magic Bagel" by Calvin Trillin, "Dry Martini" by Roger Angell, pretty much anything in the Tastes Funny secti ...more
Barry Belmont
Nov 22, 2014 Barry Belmont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Collected in this volume, that I am too reserved to call delicious, are works that span nearly a century of the New Yorker's pages combining good food and good writing, among the purest of life's pleasures. I am sensible enough to not call this a feast, but I will concede that it should come as no surprise that eating, as crucial an activity as it is to our lives, has inspired some of our best writers to wax poetic and that there's more than enough to enjoy here. And while I am quite certain tha ...more
Elena
Mar 09, 2015 Elena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. I really hope they keep making new collections like this one. It's not just food porn -- the short essays delve into the mysteries and magic of food I had never even considered before. My favorites have to be the piece on the famous forager Eull Gibbons, the wacky "Fruit Detective," and the art of making exquisite Japanese tofu. Honestly, the only section I didn't care for surprisingly enough was the fiction short stories. The real life tales of chefs and restaurants and the thoughtfu ...more
Blaire
I read this anthology in dribs and drabs over the last 6 months. I've given it 3 stars, although it's a strong 3. It has some really fantastic pieces and some that I didn't care for. Some of the pieces I enjoyed the most were historical; cooking and eating trends in the early part of the 20th century in New York. Others were humorous, like the one by Calvin Trillin entitled " An Attempt to Compile a Short History of the Buffalo Chicken Wing". I think this is best read as I did: a few pages at be ...more
Jamie is
Nov 11, 2014 Jamie is rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every vignette was a fascinating, even charming look into different perspectives of food preparation and surrounding culture. Most notable items included a story about a man who went on a foraging expedition and finding a gourmet farmhouse restaurant in bombed-out rural WWII France. Adam, if you're reading this, I kind of want to borrow the book back, although I'll keep the karma going! I lent it to a friend's wife who is a cook, and I received it from a producer friend who took it from the shel ...more
amy
Jun 28, 2008 amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I very much enjoyed my first taste (ha) of M.F.K. Fisher, as well as Anthony Lane's "Look Back In Hunger" and John McPhee's piece of foraging. Lane's essay had me giggling helplessly, possibly because it's the most contemporarily resonant one in the book; it always takes me a little while to adjust to the brevity and... brusqueness? of McPhee's writing, but eventually it all kinds of settles into a rhythm and you start to realize he's talking about eating mushrooms and dandelions for breakfast a ...more
Holly Booms Walsh
I should have known this wouldn't be to my style, as I don't lke the New Yorker. I left this one after three discs into it. I love food writing but most of these essays were too wordy and foodie for me. If you are also a person less interested in accounts of the restaurants of the 1920's and 1930's in France than in good entertaining writing about food, check out Ruth Reichl's books, Anthony Bourdain's A Chef's Tour, Julia Child's My Life In France, or Julie and Julia - all of which were great r ...more
Jdbaron
Feb 28, 2009 Jdbaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. I listened to the audio version, and from the very first story, I was completely hooked. Stories by and about culinary greats like Julia Child, Escoffier and MFK Fisher; topics ranging from the search for the world's greatest tofu and foraging for wild food; the history of the steakhouse from it's origins in Tammany Hall New York. The various readers were universally very good, and they kept a steady pace throughout. An absolutely must for any fan of the New Yorker ...more
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David Remnick (born October 29, 1958) is an American journalist, writer, and magazine editor. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin s Tomb The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998. He was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age in 2000. Before joining The New Yorker, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for Th ...more
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