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Fed, White, and Blue: Finding America with My Fork

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Simon Majumdar is probably not your typical idea of an immigrant. As he says, “I’m well rested, not particularly poor, and the only time I ever encounter ‘huddled masses’ is in line at Costco.”

But immigrate he did, and thanks to a Homeland Security agent who asked if he planned to make it official, the journey chronicled in Fed, White, and Blue was born. In it, Simon sets off on a trek across the United States to find out what it really means to become an American, using what he knows best: food.

Simon stops in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to learn about what the pilgrims ate (and that playing Wampanoag football with large men is to be avoided); a Shabbat dinner in Kansas; Wisconsin to make cheese (and get sprayed with hot whey); and LA to cook at a Filipino restaurant in the hope of making his in-laws proud. Simon attacks with gusto the food cultures that make up America—brewing beer, farming, working at a food bank, and even finding himself at a tailgate.

Full of heart, humor, history, and of course, food, Fed, White, and Blue is a warm, funny, and inspiring portrait of becoming American.

308 pages, Hardcover

First published April 7, 2015

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Simon Majumdar

6 books25 followers

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5 stars
51 (14%)
4 stars
110 (30%)
3 stars
146 (41%)
2 stars
42 (11%)
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6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Gina.
1,746 reviews55 followers
March 23, 2021
A book that combines two of my favorite things, food and travel, by one of my favorite Food Network judges/food critics? I'm in! Unfortunately, the concept was way better than the execution.
Majumdar spends 2 years traveling around the US as he attempts to understand America through its food as he tries to decide whether or not to become a US citizen. He is married to an American, and they live in LA. He had permanent resident status but was considering citizenship for reasons (became a citizen in 2014). He developed this food/travel concept from that. That sounds great, but he then fails to connect his original concept back to his food experiences. Considering this was supposedly 2 years worth of travel around the US, he visits (or at least includes) very few places, very few regional foods, and very few experiences that I would consider America through food.
He includes some interesting information from various places. I found the Mexican food and Native American sections particularly interesting. This is interspersed with facts about the food industry and production; although interesting, it didn't really work with the concept. I love his dry, UK wit, and I wish he would have applied it to more locales.
Profile Image for Todd Mcalpine.
6 reviews
May 31, 2015
This book is as much about the people Simon meets on his travels as it is about the food he eats. His authorial voice is great (watching "Cutthroat Kitchen" helps a little with this) and I can hear the man's voice in my head as I read. Also, while he is very much a Brit, I suspect he is a far more sentimental man than he claims to be in the book and a fantastic addition to American culture. This was a fun and educational read. I hope someday to meet the man.
Profile Image for Robin Shreeves.
Author 1 book6 followers
July 10, 2015
My favorite hybrid genre is travelogue mixed with food memoir. This is a wonderful example of that - British man (who happens to be a Food Network personality) wants to decide if he should become an American citizen. He decides to figure out what America is all about via food.Travels the country and eats with people. The book will induce both hunger and wanderlust.
Profile Image for Tom.
24 reviews3 followers
May 11, 2015
A book has never made me hungrier than this one, and my desire to go out and buy roasted green chiles has never been greater. Thanks Mr. Majumdar, my food budget isn't large enough to support the amount of things I now feel compelled to eat.

The book outside of the talk about food is also good, it's full of funny stories and moments with genuinely good people that made me feel better about the country I live in.
Profile Image for Sarah Booth.
391 reviews40 followers
September 25, 2017
This was an interesting food travel journal about food and food issues from all over the United States. It was well written and factual but just didn't grab me in any sort of super exciting way. I did learn from it and think others would enjoy it, but it was just not what I was really looking for at the time.
Profile Image for Laura.
558 reviews19 followers
October 8, 2016
Didn't change my life but a fun read nonetheless! I like Majumdar's writing style and the amount of travel and research he did is pretty staggering.
Profile Image for Eden.
1,720 reviews
April 15, 2019
2019 bk 121. When Simon Majundar is confronted by a U.S. Customs official upon returning from England to his wife and home in the U.S. he has to ask himself, why not become a United States Citizen? This follows with, if I'm to become an American, I need to know more about America. And, thus begins the journey of this book. Seeking to know the essence of America through his world of food - but not the television world of food - the local world of food, Majundar uses his contacts and blog to seek out the foods/production representative of the United States. From a Jewish sabbath to BBQ to Maine lobster to new Korean cooking, he looks at America through the eyes of a recent immigrant. In addition to all of the good and the food American produces, he does take a chapter to look at food deserts in America and walks the trail of food donations through food pantries. I like that Majundar was not just an observer, he debones a half of a cow, helps a brewery create a new craft bear, judges the first Kosher barbecue contest, and helps carry groceries to cars for those utilizing the services of a food pantry. I wish he had been able to attend a church pitch-in/potluck in the old Northwest states (Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan) or eaten in Washington, D.C. in the Chinese restaurant (a haunt of politicians of the 20th century - many of whom are now deceased - but the restaurant survived them). I give this book a five stars as he walks us through his naturalization ceremony and gives us the words that he has learned about the United States. Thank you Simon Majundar for writing this book.
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,699 reviews20 followers
April 24, 2018
I knew who Simon Majumdar was from seeing him as an Iron Chef judge and on other Food Network shows, so I was interested to see what this book would be like. The premise is that when trying to decide if he wants to become a US citizen (after marrying his US citizen wife) he decides to find out more about America through food. He spends two years traveling all over the US eating all kinds of food and meeting all kinds of different people. He experiences everything from a competitive eating event, NASCAR, working on a farm, and fishing for salmon in Alaska. While I appreciate his efforts to really see the food of America, there were a lot of things he said that I didn't agree with and was surprised about his views of the industrial food industry - I would have thought someone who's entire career is based on food would understand the important of local and sustainable over industrial. He only spends 2 chapters on the "dark side" of American food - one on industrial beef/feedlots and one on food deserts when he works with a food bank. Overall, it was good, but not great. I don't know if I would read something else by him because I didn't love this one.

Some quotes I particularly did NOT like:

"Feedlots are not a particularly pleasant aspect of the U.S. beef industry, but they have become somewhat of a necessary evil, given the combination of delivering profit for the owners and consumer demand, which simply can't be met by a more ethical grass feeding system." (p. 128) [This is just straight up WRONG. The only reason industrial food "works" is because of massive government subsidies. If we paid less taxes we could all spend more money on higher quality food. And because of the industrial food industry we've trained consumers to only eat certain cuts and not practice more nose to tail eating that you would be more likely to do if you were closer to your food.]

"However, much as I admire craft food, I tend to have a more pragmatic approach to food production and often find such well-meaning speeches almost as irritating as they are inspiring. All too often they fail to recognize the fact that we not live in a world of over seven billion people. America does not exist in a vacuum and must play its part. Telling people we need to return to a mythical era of local and seasonal eating is Pollyanna-ish at best and down-right irresponsible at worst. It serves to disenfranchise those who don't have the time, opportunity, or income to do so, wherever they may be in the world." (p. 154) [See my previous comment with regard to government food subsidies. Eating local and seasonal is NOT Pollyanna - it's the way people around the world lived and ate for generations. You don't have to be a farmer either - you can support your local lunatic farmer.]

"I am not always the biggest fan of farmer's markets, as, quite frankly, I think there are far too many of them and not enough great producers to keep them supplied. The end result is that they often fill more spaces with stalls selling prepared meals and aging hippies making balloon animals for children than they do really good produce." (p. 232) [I don't know where he's been going to farmer's markets, but really?!?! Again, if there weren't so many government subsidies for industrial food maybe more smaller farms could make a go of things and make enough money to live. This may have been the worst few lines in the whole book and is VERY insulting to the many, many farmer's markets that do support local farmers and actually sell a lot of food.]
Profile Image for Barry Martin Vass.
Author 4 books9 followers
August 30, 2015
Simon Majumdar is a British chef and food critic and a long-time contributor to the Food Network and Food Channel. He also serves as a celebrity judge on such shows as Iron Chef, Cutthroat Kitchen, and Extreme Chef, and is the fine living correspondent for AskMen.com. Mr. Majumdar knows about food and food preparation. So when he decided to apply for American citizenship, it wasn't enough for him to simply fill out the forms; no, he decided to travel around the country for a solid year learning about American cuisine and everything that goes into it. Here are some of the trips he took and the things he did: cooked in a Filipino restaurant in LA for a few days; attended a wing-eating contest in Philadelphia with one of the contestants; fished and dug for clams in southern New Jersey and then cooked out on the beach; gone on an afternoon tour of ethnic food in the Bronx; spent a few days at the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, learning what the Pilgrims ate and how they cooked their first year in the New World, as well as how their interaction with the Wampanoag Indians changed their diet; manned a lobster boat in Maine and learned to make the perfect New England lobster roll; spent a few days around the Fourth of July in Brainerd, Minnesota; attended a BBQ competition in Kearney, Nebraska; ate a Shabbat meal in Overland Park, Kansas; spent a few days learning to make cheese in Wisconsin; survived a late-night eating and drinking tour in Koreatown, Los Angeles; toured South Central LA and Boyle Heights to observe the realities of street Mexican food. And on and on: working for a week at a farm in Santa Cruz; learning to make craft beer in Washington State; attending a farmer's market with a chile farmer in New Mexico; tailgating at Longhorn stadium; working at a food co-op in Texarkana; fishing for salmon in Alaska; cooking lunch for the team at Richard Petty Motorsports. But this isn't just about the food; it's about the people he met and interacted with, making new friends along the way. This is a very good piece of Americana, and what's most surprising about it is that it was written by a Brit. Great fun!
Profile Image for Jill.
1,083 reviews4 followers
May 12, 2017
When you are a foodie and a man of the world, and you decide at long last to become an American citizen, what do you do to learn about your new home country? You eat yourself from one end of the country to the other, of course. And that is exactly what food writer and well known culinary competition judge Simon Majumdar did. The result: one more American citizen, stories of vibrant American dishes to savor, and a book that details all of those amazing food adventures: Fed, White, and Blue. 

From lobster fishing in Maine to judging a kosher barbecue competition in Kansas, from making cheese in Wisconsin (and getting a little overly familiar with whey, through no fault of his own) to helping brew beer in Colorado, Majumdar goes all over the country to experience the flavors that we as Americans claim as our own. 

Told with Majumdar's characteristic intelligence and dry wit, Fed, White, and Blue is a celebration of the chefs, craftsmen, farmers, fishermen, ranchers, brewers, and artisans who make the United States and its food so special. He learns about the regional foods of America through the individuals who take him into their hearts and their kitchens to teach him all about their passions. 

The audiobook is narrated by Tim Andres Pabon, and I found that a little disappointing. Any time I listen to a memoir, I love to hear the author's actual voice reading their own words. I know that's not always possible, and while Pabon did a good job, I didn't think it was a great job. I felt like some of the humor and the pathos were lost in his reading. But the strength of the book definitely kept it moving forward in a clear and even charming way. 

Love food? Love America? Love American food? Then read Fed, White, and Blue and learn even more reasons to treasure this country and our unique contributions to the cuisine of the world. Listen (or read, either one will work), absorb ideas new and old, and then--most importantly--eat! 
Profile Image for Kyrie.
2,992 reviews
June 3, 2015
It's on my cookbook shelf, although it isn't a cookbook. It's just about food. I'm too lazy to make another shelf just for food.

It's about a British foodie who marries an American and decides he needs to travel America and try various food things before he decides if he really wants to be a citizen.

Yes, I think it's a really odd basis for deciding to be a citizen, but then food doesn't matter to me in the same way it does to Majumdar. He really gets into it, and the more exotic, the better (as well as the more, the better).

I found him a bit arrogant and sneering in some of the early chapters. (The whole bit about the Minnesota girls and the bed race - I got the feeling he was miffed by them.) He was also pretty aloof. He gets more relaxed and gentler by the end. Maybe America wore him down with barbecue?

Overall, it just seemed like a weird premise for a whole book, I couldn't make myself care a lot about the story or the book.

There were interesting bits, so if you want something with chapters that are fairly short (so you can put it down easily) and not dependent on each other, then yes, it's a good book - something to take on a trip with lots of layovers.
Profile Image for John Shaw.
917 reviews6 followers
May 27, 2016
I passed this book by
several times until I noticed
the author.
Simon Majumdar
is one of my favorite people.
I have watched him eat & critique 100s
of dishes on the Food Network.
His charm
His love of food
His inherent smart assery
not to mention his accent
all make him a joy to watch.

This ALL comes through
in this amazing book.
As Majumdar considers US citizenry
he decides to find the essence
by eating.
A great idea
America is defined by it's food.
Be it festival : 4th of July
Immigrant cooking : a The Bronx odyssey with Baron Ambrosia
(self proclaimed food ambassador of The Bronx)
Simon never loses his love of food
Never tires of meeting the people who
harvest and make the food we all consume

But the best part of this book is his joy at
going new places
meeting new people
eating new things
A deeply personal journey through his new homeland
Simon learns why so many people deeply love the USA
in all it's crazy quilt glory.

Profile Image for Theresa Jehlik.
1,188 reviews5 followers
July 18, 2017
Married to an American of Filipino descent, Simon Majumdar (the product of a Welsh mother and Indian father) is wrestling with becoming an American citizen. He decides to embark on a food tour of America to decide what it really means to be an American. During the next year, he travels the country and explores many hidden food corners -- competitive food eating contests, Wampanoag cuisine on Plimoth Plantation, a sanctioned barbecue contest in snowy central Nebraska, a Shabbat dinner in Kansas City, and food bank management in Arkansas. Written in a breezy, easy-to-read style, the author communicates as well in writing as he does on various Food Network shows (Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef, etc.). An interesting look at the many food stories that are just beyond the interstates lined with fast food restaurants.
Profile Image for Lloyd.
561 reviews32 followers
January 2, 2016
The book itself likely would have been a 3 out of 5, but the style (accent) and personality of the voice actor, Tim Andres Pabon, is so different from the text, of Simon Majumdar, that it bothered me through my whole listening experience.

There were bites of great material, but it is clear that Mr. Majumdar struggled to put it all together. And the chunks where he was describing non-food related details of American culture and history felt out of place.

I couldn't enjoy a book full of overeating.
Profile Image for Thomas.
213 reviews2 followers
February 22, 2016
Simon Majumdar discovers the abundance and diversity of the USA through its food, and it was fun to go along for the ride. His self-deprecating humor lends itself well to this travelogue, and by the end he’s created a genuine memoir fitting to his conversion to US Citizen. At times I felt some of his choices of where to visit (and what to eat) lacked cohesion and depth, but then it all made sense: our diverse nation is anything but cohesive, and the sheer variety of food adventures that await are endless. This book promotes those adventures, something each of us should embrace! Yum.
2,732 reviews18 followers
May 14, 2015
The author who is seen on the Food Network decides to visit various locations across America that have a meaning to being an American. Each chapter is a new destination. He visits Plymouth,Massachusetts, Los Angeles where he lives, a Longhorn tailgating, Alaska for salmon and many other places. It was a very enjoyable book. It was an easy fast read.
931 reviews4 followers
June 8, 2015
The Plimouth Historical Foubdation was the most interesting story in this collection of his eating his way through America. It was an okay read better photos would have made the book better but the book appeared to be a cheap version of Diners and Dives. I did like the Love Aapple Farm in Santa Cruz. The Chili section about Santa Fe , NM did not do justice to the area or the Chile King.
1,872 reviews
June 28, 2015
This is a much better book than its predecessor - more informative, more detailed information about the people and the food he finds, more positive in response to what he encounters, less snarky, less whiny. Perhaps he's over his midlife whatever, or perhaps a happy marriage has turned his attitude around. In any case, it's a welcome change and makes for a decent light read for foodies.
Profile Image for Missy Graf.
64 reviews9 followers
February 20, 2016
Very much enjoyed Simon's trek through the US to experience not only different food, but the culture and people of the area. Not only was there ethnic foods, but beer, cheese, kosher, and a chapter both on food desserts and fast foods. I will definitely review some of the chapters before I travel to these regions and it has heightened by desire to make it to specific places in the US.
Profile Image for Mia Couture.
102 reviews3 followers
February 9, 2016
I read this book for my Book Riot 2016 book challenge for "A food Memoir". But It may not have been the best time for me to read this book as it is diet season and I felt myself getting distracted
A LOT. I enjoyed many of the stories especially Plymouth Plantation since I have been there myself and It brought back pleasant memories of traveling with my family.
Profile Image for Valerie.
185 reviews9 followers
January 27, 2016
A delightful look at many of the people & culinary treasures of the USA. The descriptions were so vivid I often felt like I could taste the dishes being described and I loved the amount of time spent in so-called flyover country. It was nice to see Midwestern cuisine represented in a positive light.
Profile Image for Robert.
1,038 reviews59 followers
March 2, 2016
I have been laid up in bed after surgery and catching up on my reading. This book was a great read for my recovery as I got to travel with the author, a well known foodie, as he traveled America. He did so to get to know the people and the food that makes America as he journeyed towards gaining his U.S citizenship. A good read for those interested in food and America.
Profile Image for Lorna Van kley.
23 reviews
June 11, 2017
A wonderful book that starts off as an idea to travel and eat and experience the people of the USA before he becomes a citizen. It's not just an adventure in food but a veritable history of the USA. You can definitely hear the author, Simon Majumdar throughout this book if you've seen him on any Food Network shows
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,611 reviews61 followers
August 13, 2015
This is a well-written book, and I found parts of it to be quite interesting. As much as I love to eat, I got tired of reading so many descriptions of food. This would be a good pick for a real foodie. (4/21/15)

I received an ARC from NetGalley! (3/19/15)
Profile Image for Anusha.
32 reviews
September 8, 2015
(Really 3.5 stars) Quick, enjoyable read. I picked it up at the library when I was locked out of my apartment for a few hours and it certainly made the waiting time more fun. It's your basic travelogue of the US but with a food focus. Nothing too serious or mind-blowing, just a nice, easy read!
Profile Image for Laura.
407 reviews20 followers
June 19, 2015
Simon Majumdar's exploration of America through food is a lot of fun. His vivid descriptions of the food he ate along the way also made me hungry.
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