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Death by Pad Thai: And Other Unforgettable Meals
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Death by Pad Thai: And Other Unforgettable Meals

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  153 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Food isn’t just a gustatory pleasure; it is the stuff of life. At its best and most memorable, a meal becomes a story—and a story becomes a feast. In this collection of essays by some of the country’s finest writers, food is the central player in memories both exquisite and excruciating. Steve Almond recounts the gleeful daylong preparation of a transcendent lobster pad th ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published February 10th 2010 by Clarkson Potter (first published 2006)
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I'm reading all these 'food books' because of a project for my last class. Death by Pad Thai and other unforgettable meals is different from Eat, Memory in that the entries are at least twice as long, and more like (true) stories. Unlike the New York Times essays, which were uniformly sharply written, the writing quality here ranges from brilliant (Henri Cole on his dinner with Seamus Haney in Cambridge) to funny (Jane and Michael Stern in a self-deprecating piece on entertaining a couple of Eur ...more
Dec 26, 2007 Sara rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who appreciates a fine meal and has experienced terrible ones
These essays explore the power of food and memorable meals, be they positive or negative experiences. Each essay is around 10-15 pages, so it's a good book to pick up and put down for a busy reader.

I read this book in increments over several weeks, generally reading an essay or two while I waited for water to boil or the oven timer to buzz as I made my own meals.

While not an earth-shattering book, the writing was good -some authors and entries being quite funny and others more sentimental. This
This book is a collection of essays about memorable experiences with food. It's not particularly ground breaking or even my favorite "these are cool writers writing about something else" collection (for that, see Speaking with the Angel, ed. Nick Hornby), but it was perfect for me right now. I'm learning to cook slowly but surely, and I'm interviewing at a mile a minute for law firm jobs, so I needed something light I could pick up and enjoy and then put down for a while. I thought this was an i ...more
A book of 20 essays by writers, the broad theme of which is "a meal they'd never forgotten and would surely not forget... meals made unforgettable by their occasion." The essays vary greatly in tone (humorous, not so humorous, poignant, almost slapstick) and meal (from the high to the low to not so much a particular meal but a theme of many meals). What they all share, despite 20 different writers plus a "bonus" Introduction essay by editor Douglas Bauer, is terrific writing. This is the type of ...more
Rachel Rogers
Jul 02, 2008 Rachel Rogers rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kathy
Continuing my relatively new realization of enjoying reading about people who cook. This recommendation took a long time to come through: I was on the Interlibrary loan list for it for so long my name fell off the list. Thank you, Karen for procuring it for me!

Poignant, funny, sad, melancholy, joyous by turns. Some beautiful lines "Cortes of new tastes". The title piece "Death by Lobster Pad Thai" is a great testiment to cooking, good friends and good times. I read that first and am not sure the
This is a great little book with a collection of essays by famous writers telling of their most memorable food experiences. These are not just "best meal" stories, but descriptions of situations, time, place and people. A great little read.
This is just a collection of stories that relate to food, based on the memories of various writers. Far too many of the stories were written by long winded people who couldn't stay on topic if their lives depended on it! Worse were the stories written by people who think "the more adjectives, the better!" You can tell that too many of the writers were trying too hard to be poetic and lyrical in creating a verbal portrait of their lives, only to end up spending 1000 words on describing a cold day ...more
I didn't really like it because it wasn't what I expected. I was hoping for a book version of the TV show "Diary of a Foodie" from Gourmet. 'Pad Thai' seemed to mostly be written about people who weren't necessarily food people. So you get a bunch of essays that aren't really about food but just become tangential to food at some point.

And for some reason, many of the essays involve divorce. As I read each essay, I started taking bets as to how soon the divorce would come up.

The book helps itself
I picked this up because the title caught my eye. Various writers contributed reminiscences about a memorable meal experience. The resulting collection of essays is uneven, and there are enough similarly sentimental pieces to make some recede from memory. A few stand out: Michael Stern’s hilarious account of his misguided attempt to take some European visitors for a real American culinary experience; Amy Bloom details how cooking and food took different roles at different times in her life; Stev ...more
Becky Jenson Straub
Great for reading while traveling. Simple, but meaningful short stories about memorable meals.
At first glance at the title, one might think this was an exotic murder mystery, but the subtitle, “and other unforgettable meals” dispels that notion. Here twenty writers such as Richard Russo, Peter Mayle, Jane and Michael Stern and others write delightful essays about their experiences with food. Some are memorable because they were really enjoyed, others are memorable but might best be forgotten. Michael Stern’s piece, “My Dinner with Andy Warhol’s Friends” is about the most disastrous event ...more
Collection of short stories from several writers about their most memorable meal (not necessarily "best food" or "most expensive" but the one with which they have the most emotional connection-many included references to Proust's famous remembrance (of things past) upon eating a little madeleine cake, which got a bit tiresome by the third or fourth story). As with most anthologies, there are a few gems (and a few recipes as well) but most of the stories were not as entertaining or engaging as I ...more
This book wasn't really what I thought it was going to be. From the title, I was expecting a book about exotic, strange food, like squid livers or lion's tongues, but then I realized that it was more about the meals themselves than what was eaten. I continued to read. Sort of a mixed bag for me. Or should I call it a smogasbord? Some stories are great, some sort of rambling and overly descriptive. And for such a slim volume, I would not consider it a quick read, oddly.
Some of these stories were very good, but this was not really a book about food - it was a compilation of stories that had a very weak theme: an unforgettable meal. Some of the writing was very verbose. Some incomprehensible. I can certainly understand unforgettable meals, but these were more life stories. And the title story is actually Death by LOBSTER Pad Thai. Why change the title? And why put it as the LAST story? Overall an ok read, but I won't pick it up again.
The premise of the book is simple: authors are asked to describe their most memorable meal, with preference given to descriptions that are not too Proustian. Some of the responses are joyous fun indeed (reading Peter Mayle's response in particular made me remember why I so enjoyed A Year in Provence), but some of the selections also have a hint of bitterness and disappointment to them. Even if it comes at an unhappy time, shouldn't food be a happy thing?
Maria (Ri)
This mostly enjoyable collection of essays was not a good one to read in bed at night - it made my tummy rumble and wish I were downstairs devouring a snack! I particularly enjoyed "My Dinner with Andy Warhol's Friends" by Michael Stern. It had the same horrifying draw that The Office or Ben Stiller movies have. I just felt so badly for them, but couldn't stop reading about the train wreck! A few of the essays were snoozers, but overall, it was a yummy read.
Oct 15, 2007 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foodies
Shelves: cooking-food
This is another compilation book of essays, this one focusing on food stories. Even though I am not the best cook I am completely fascinated by food/chef books. Death by Pad Thai is a pretty good collection of memorable food experiences. The title story about Lobster Pad Thai is probably the best one in the book, but the one by Jane & Michael Stern is hilarious. I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in food stories.
Wan Ni
This is a very lovely anthology on food, by contemporary authors. It is an immense joy reading their recollection of unforgettable meals, not all good and lavish but unique experiences that deserve all the exposition they can garner. Each short story is a delight to read, so much so I was sad when I got to the end of the book. this is highly recommended for all food lovers.
i can't seem to get through this book, something that seemed like it would be a quick read. i get into a story, connect with the author and then two pages later it's over and there is a brand new voice telling a brand new story.

if i'm going to read a book of essays, i prefer the essay to be written by one author (ala sedaris, klosterman, etc).
For the most part, nothing here was particularly memorable, with the exception of Steve Almond's bit of comic relief, and Michael Stern's tale of perhaps one of the worst dining evenings ever.

None of the essays were bad. While reading them I was usually moderately engaged, but except for the two mentioned, they didn't stay with me.
May 11, 2007 Gina rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foodlovers
This was my tub book (the book I kept by the tub to read during my brief breaks from the baby when I could take a bath and relax). Composed of a bunch of short stories about each author's individual expeirnece with cooking or a memorable meal, it was a really easy read. Some of the stories were a little wierd, but overall I enjoyed it.
Fast and enjoyable, good for picking up in fits and starts as it is a collection of essays. There are only a few recipes, so it doesn't come across as too cookbook-y, which is nice. Some of the entries are funny, some touching, all definitely memorable. Good for the fan of food and/or memoirs.
This collection of stories/recollections/essays on meals is varied -- some funny, some painful, some deeply moving, others instantly forgettable. There's something for everyone, though, especially if you are a connoisseur of Writing or Poetry. You may recognize several of the authors.
Not a bad colletion. A few hilarious moments and some wonderful, emotional stories. Occasionally cheesy, intermittently irrelevant (some people didn't seem to grasp the assignment of writing about a memorable-- to the soul, not just the palate-- meal), but overall entertaining.
I really enjoyed this book. It's a series of short stories about people's most memorable meals. This doesn't mean their best meals, but it has to do with the circumstances surrounding the meals. Each of the stories were well written and intriguing.
My favorite was "My Dinner with Andy Warhol's Friends" by Michael Stern which I found pretty funny. A nice book to read if you know your reading will be interrupted since the stories are short.

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Andrea Conarro
This is a yummy compilation of food essays. I am about 2/3 of the way through, and have to say I prefer the first stories the most. Maybe my favorite is the story of one woman's quest to make a lasagna for her lover...
I thought this was just going to be a bit of fluff, and only bought it because the title caught my sense of humor. I was quite surprised to find most of the stories had a good sense of depth along with the culinary details.
Jon Rybka-Wachhaus
I enjoyed the first story or two but then it got boring and it was all about food. I love food. Hell I am on WW due to my love of food but it got really snoozy really fast and I just ended up not liking it. Sorry.
A charming collection of food writing, short essays by 21 well-known and lesser-known authors who usually write about other things. Excellent bedtime reading because each chapter is its own short essay.
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