What a charming book! I recall really enjoying reading about the authors' exploration of and love for wine - including their honeymoon by train with aWhat a charming book! I recall really enjoying reading about the authors' exploration of and love for wine - including their honeymoon by train with a case of Taittinger champagne. I also recall being very annoyed by the fact that they both wrote in the first person, so the "I" could be Dorothy or John in alternating paragraphs. Apart from that, loved it....more
I read this in the bathtub during a very long winter when I was struggling to balance a doctoral program, a very busy job, and a new live-in relationsI read this in the bathtub during a very long winter when I was struggling to balance a doctoral program, a very busy job, and a new live-in relationship, all of which could be full-time jobs on their own. I really identified with the author's struggle to find the things that anchored her apart from her unsatisfying work - and enjoyed all of the food, of course! I haven't seen the movie, but I understand it's a bit of a different animal, and so I'm happy to just have my memory of enjoying the book greatly at a time when I needed to escape into good food for a while....more
Side note: I'm willing - no, happy - to admit that a lot of food writing is excessive and sanctimonious. Writing about local food can be even more insSide note: I'm willing - no, happy - to admit that a lot of food writing is excessive and sanctimonious. Writing about local food can be even more insufferable. A book about great American foods, then, has the potential to be unbearably smug. This was not that book.
Another side note: while Shane was happy to give me this book for Christmas, he takes issue with the concept of terroir - specifically that place and context can play such an important role in the characteristics or quality of specific foods. This book, and our discussions of it, changed both of our minds.
In 200-or-so enjoyable pages, Rowan Jacobsen explores why and how specific foods are so uniquely American. It's not quite as simple as you'd think.
Take the Yukon River salmon. The size and quality of the meat will vary depending on where it is caught in its journey upriver. At the mouth of the Yukon, the fish is outrageously fat, having stored all the energy it needs to make the difficult trip. Closer to the spawning grounds, the fish will have expended all of that energy, so the muscles will be lean and strong. Worn out fish might not be good eating, but they may provide amazing caviar. The quality and quantity will also depend on the state of the Bering Strait, where environmental changes can affect the food supply.
And on we go, learning about how mother nature, natural selection, and human intervention have produced Michoacán avocados, PEI mussels and potatoes, and Jasper Hill Winnemere, which I can't wait to try. Each food has an interesting, well-written, and occasionally drool-inducing story. Overall, the book is less about eating local than it is about celebrating the ways that man and nature have cooperated to create amazing foods. I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys food writing and enjoys knowing about both the process and the end product....more
The back jacket describes Candyfreak as 'hilarious' - I think that's a bit of a stretch. Like Not That You Asked, I found Candyfreak a quick and enjoyThe back jacket describes Candyfreak as 'hilarious' - I think that's a bit of a stretch. Like Not That You Asked, I found Candyfreak a quick and enjoyable read - but not one that I expect to reread.
Personally, I wish this book was more about the candy industry and the small producers Almond visited. The highlights for me were his descriptions of the candy-making processes and of the candymakers themselves - interesting, fanatical characters who were often involved in every detail of the process. Much less interesting to me were Almond's frequent digressions into his own Freak-iness, as well as his insistence on referring to himself as a Freak (with a capital F).
I guess I just wanted more candy, less Almond - which may be why I've always been a Mounds kind of girl....more
No surprises here. Planck advocates for whole, real food, and lots of it. I worry a little that the data supporting her recommendations is selectivelyNo surprises here. Planck advocates for whole, real food, and lots of it. I worry a little that the data supporting her recommendations is selectively fished out of the great ocean of dietary advice, particularly around pregnancy, but as with Real Food: What to Eat and Why, it's hard to argue with her simple, clear, time-tested advice that doesn't rely on highly engineered products to support something we've been doing quite well for millennia....more
I really can't recall the last time I enjoyed reading a book as much as I enjoyed The Kitchen Diaries. I spent most the weekend curled up with it on tI really can't recall the last time I enjoyed reading a book as much as I enjoyed The Kitchen Diaries. I spent most the weekend curled up with it on the couch under a warm blanket, drinking a hot mug of coffee. It's basically the perfect format for me - a combination of diary and cookbook, reflecting on seasonal eating, cooking experiments (both good and bad), and the pleasures (and sometimes shames) of food. After reading through half the year on Saturday, I woke up Sunday morning dreaming of perfect breakfasts.
I think one of the things I really enjoyed and appreciated was his perspective on meals and portions. From the way he talks about food, it seems like his diet centers around very good food, but not a whole lot of it - so small, hearty, flavorful portions rather than a plate full of mediocre food. As I told Shane, this is something I struggle with in planning meals - I worry that whatever I make isn't going to be enough, or that there should be more protein, etc - when perhaps if I focused on healthy, hearty, and flavorful, the rest wouldn't be as big of a deal.
On the whole, I found myself really inspired to cook more, make better meals, and read and write about food more. So consider yourself warned....more
I loved this a lot less than I loved The Kitchen Diaries - but then I really, really loved The Kitchen Diaries, so the next book would be an inevitablI loved this a lot less than I loved The Kitchen Diaries - but then I really, really loved The Kitchen Diaries, so the next book would be an inevitable step down. The food-as-memory is an exceptionally common trope, though Slater does elevate it a bit. By the end of the book, I was less aware of the food parts and more of the memoir, which perhaps is the point? That food can anchor you to moments and memories that are so much bigger?
It also struck me that all of his relationships with adults - at least as portrayed in Toast - either had to do with sex or food or both....more
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Marion Nestle, and I think I'd like to own this book primarily because while it's jam-packed full of interesI have a tremendous amount of respect for Marion Nestle, and I think I'd like to own this book primarily because while it's jam-packed full of interesting, useful information, it's not the most engaging read. I think I'd like having this on the coffee table for casual perusing - rather than as a library book, where I was under time pressure to finish....more
While many of the ideas presented in this book were re-runs of things I've read previously (see: The Queen of Fats, Animal Vegetable Miracle, Real FooWhile many of the ideas presented in this book were re-runs of things I've read previously (see: The Queen of Fats, Animal Vegetable Miracle, Real Food), Pollan does a masterful job of stitching together the social, ecological, physiological, and political aspects of eating in a very readable book. I zipped through this in a couple of days. I'd highly recommend it, especially if you don't want to read all that other stuff....more
Me reading this book was a good example of preaching to the choir. That said, it was well-written and engaging - much moreso than several of the foodMe reading this book was a good example of preaching to the choir. That said, it was well-written and engaging - much moreso than several of the food books I've read recently. While the others have skewed heavily towards the scientific/political aspects of food - this one balances science and pleasure, history and the unique opportunities and challenges of modernity. A bit light on the evidence - other reviewers have criticized her presentation of science and anecdotes on equal footing - but still quite persuasive: "real" foods, the ones we've eaten for centuries if not millenia, are better for us than the things we've cooked up in the last century, including the bizarre nutraceuticals and other designer foods that seem to pop up at the grocery store every week.
Now, if only I didn't like refined sugars so much......more
Let me just tell you that I'm dead afraid of becoming sanctimonious and annoying about local food. That happened to some extent in this book, but forLet me just tell you that I'm dead afraid of becoming sanctimonious and annoying about local food. That happened to some extent in this book, but for the most part, I enjoyed Smith and MacKinnon's account of their year of local eating. They were honest about the strains that this lifestyle choice placed on their relationship and their diets - while it was a rich and rewarding experience, they also had intense and unsatisfied cravings and bickered about the small things. On the whole, though, this book presented a good account of what regional eating does for your understanding of the local ecosystem (a chemical spill wiped out many of the fish they'd hoped to eat) as well as your own body's needs (by the end of the year, they were satisfied with much simpler, though still amazingly flavorful food)....more
I added this one to my "food writing" shelf, but I'm not sure it belongs there. The author definitely would say it doesn't, but they're my damned shelI added this one to my "food writing" shelf, but I'm not sure it belongs there. The author definitely would say it doesn't, but they're my damned shelves, and I'll classify things any way I please.
While the names of the acids and fats got me totally confused (I'm not even sure how to pronounce 'eicosapentaenoic'), I did really enjoy this book and feel like I learned a great deal. On the way home from Buzz tonight (after indulging in plenty of linoleic acids, no doubt), I rattled off many of the exciting things that I learned from reading this book:
1. As recently as the beginning of the 20th century, scientists were still learning that humans require fat in their diets.
2. Once we figured that out, it still took a long time to figure out that we needed multiple kinds of fats, and that not all fats were bad (or any fats, for that matter, in moderation).
3. One of the predominate researchers in the area of fats worked for the Hormel Institute, which I find amusing as I always associate Hormel with that water tower by the factory in Janesville, WI.
4. Lots of research has been done comparing diets and fats for many parts of the world, and what they point to is that people with diets that are higher in omega 3s, whether that comes from fish or veggies, are healthier, have a faster metabolism, and have a dramatically lower incidence of heart disease.
One of the strengths of this book is that its author is a science writer rather than a physician or a nutritionist or one of those food zealots who argue for/against a particular dilemma. Allport presents a lot of research, a few personalities, and a handful of hypothesis - but wraps up with solid recommendations and a useful glossary. On the whole a good read, if overly science-y for the poolside. Yes, I read a book about fat by the pool. I'm cool like that....more