Stephanie's Reviews > The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation

The United States of Arugula by David Kamp
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's review
Jan 13, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: book-club
Read from December 29, 2011 to January 09, 2012

So-so read. If you just want a list of the major players in bth NY and California (North vs. South) and the handful of restaruants that are key, then this is your book. If you are looking for something that bridges the gap between the more elitest restaraunts with the everyday American family, you won't find it here. That's why this book, overall, missed the boat so to speak.

Yes, it was interesting. It was neat to hear about James Beard (when all I previously knew was that he was important). The history of Niman Ranch was equally fascinating. I was interested in Alice Waters to a point. (The author kind of beats to death the fact that we have Waters to thank for aruguala, frisee (mixed green salads in general).)

I think where this book really misses the point is in the average American home. This is probably because a.) those sources are harder to come by, so, b.) it would have taken longer to write this book, and mainly, c.) Kamp is not a trained historian (which is fine).

All in all an interesting read, though, not what I was expecting. I would have enjoyed it much more if he went into the question of "why" American became a gourmet nation AND what that gourmet nation is--because let's not forget the book Fast Food Nation. It would be interesting to have a conversation about those two as concurrent states in our society--because America--though folks have accses (especially in California) to virtually any type of cuisine and specialty ingredients--still has a long way to go. (I'm talking on the average household level.)

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