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The Best American Food Writing 2018

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  440 ratings  ·  59 reviews
“Food writing is stepping out,” legendary food writer Ruth Reichl declares at the start of this, the inaugural edition of Best American Food Writing. “It’s about time…Food is, in a very real sense, redesigning the world.” Indeed, the twenty-eight pieces in this volume touch on every pillar of society: from the sense memories that connect a family through food, to the scien ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Mariner Books
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
The first ever compilation of The Best American Food Writing provides a wide range of perspectives, from a profile on Azerbaijan cuisine by Anya von Bremzen to an article from ESPN Magazine about the NFL's obsession with peanut butter and jelly. Three of the essays had ties to South Carolina, including an examination of legacy of racism with our BBQ and whitewashing of "craft culture." The #metoo movement is a focus of two essays including the acclaimed New Yorker piece, "Mario Batali and the Ap ...more
Ampersand Inc.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dani-s-reads
Because I’m a big nerd, I’ve actually read several of these pieces in their original publications, but it’s still great reading. A nice mix of shorter and longer pieces, reviews, memoir, and investigative journalism. Highly recommend!
Bronson
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing collection! I'm so glad the editors put this together. Not all of the stories are 5 star stories but I loved the diversity and broad reach of these stories. I learned a ton and I'm looking forward to diving into more writing in this genre in the future. The stories span subjects like the politics of school lunch, spanish hams, Christina Tosi, PB&Js for the NBA, Oranges, whale harvesting, cheese, Pioneer Woman and Mario Batali. I miss you Mario you perverted bastard. I can't even ...more
Kate
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hear ye hear ye it’s only take 2018 years but we finally got a HOT compilation of US food writing and like it talked about so much and was varied and interesting and I had no idea the NBA loved sandwiches but I did have an idea of the alternative meat industry but now I just got to learn more about it ?? And now I can’t stop looking at pictures of Milkbar on Instagram and wondering also how the dairy industry has cheesily melted its way into every American nook and cranny!!! Can’t wait for 2019! ...more
Susan Johnson
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because I like Ruth Reichl's writing. Unfortunately she doesn't have a piece in this collection of short stories and memoirs. Fortunately, she has plenty of interesting authors in it and I enjoyed it.

There are lots of interesting stories about woman chefs that I really enjoyed. I liked Amanda Cohen's piece called " I've worked in food for twenty years. Now you are about female chefs?" It was certainly eye opening. The piece on Mario Batali was quite disturbing and how we gave
...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A new entry in the Best American Writing Series, Best American Food Writing is up to the same excellent standards as the others -- Travel, Science & Nature, Essays, etc. The essays and articles come from a variety of sources, many online only. And they are only about food in a very broad sense -- it's really about good writing more than good food. I enjoyed the story about Jamie Oliver's clumsy attempt to change the diet of a West Virginia school district and the quiet success of the local admin ...more
Dani
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, nonfiction, ampersand
As with a lot of essay collections, I didn't read this anthology from cover to cover sequentially, rather reading whichever story caught my eye or choosing one whose length I had time for. It had a little bit of everything: stories of celebrity chefs and famous restaurants; explanations of food science and innovation; think-pieces on ethics, race and gender in the food world; and thoughtful essays on the future of our planet's food sources. While I connected with some topics more than others (an ...more
Meg
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I’ve been searching tirelessly to figure out what happened to Holly Hughes’ “Best Food Writing” series, which I’ve been enjoying for over a decade now. Unfortunately, my internet skillz failed me and I turned to this, which doesn’t claim to replace it but also (bizarrely, IMO) doesn’t make even a peep of reference to it in the introduction, claiming that food writing has been vastly overlooked as a genre.

All that aside, this is a solid and thoughtful collection, with pieces chosen that address l
...more
Annie
Jan 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I give this book 3.5 stars. I remembered when food writing books were about the food. They made you salivate, entertained, and left you wanting to know more about food. In this book, the focus was on school lunch program, agricultural, politics, poverty, racism, or sexism/harassment. It's as if food had to be controversial to be included in this collection. ...more
HB
"Food writing", as a genre, is a relative newcomer to the literary scene. Right? Kinda. At least, being called "food writing" - getting that level of niche recognition - is relatively new. As Sylvia Killingsworth points out in her introduction, maybe the general validation of food writing is less "delayed", more "trickle-up": even though it wasn't until 2014 that The New York Times changed the name of its "Dining" section to "Food", Eater hit the interwebs as early as 2005. (For context, in 2005 ...more
Daniel
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
This is the first such collection and I’m really glad it exists. The topics range from agriculture and nutrition to food in foreign countries to food history in the US. With all those varied topics, the volume presents a thorough picture of all the ways food affects and is affected by conversations in culture in 2018. It is also a showcase of great writing. I hope to read future editions in this series, and in the meantime, I’m using the contributing authors and publications as a jumping off poi ...more
Bridgit
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I was never interested in checking out any food writing pieces until I finished this collection. Such a great variety of essays regarding food and eating! I cannot wait until the 2019 edition comes out this year, and I'll be interested to see who the editor for that one will be. ...more
Kate
Dec 14, 2019 rated it liked it
There were some pieces that were enthralling and others that had me questioning the editor's decision for inclusion. ...more
Michelle
This is the strongest "The Best American Writing" edition I have read. I only skipped over 1 or 2 articles. Most of the stories are well written, so even if I didn't care for the topic I was compelled to finish. I also discovered that my sweet spot were articles and essays that combine culture, history, science and maybe some politics. Articles in order :

"Revenge of the Lunch Lady" by Jane Black for The Huffington Post/Highline - 5* article that hits the sweet spot. It's about how Jamie Oliver'
...more
Jewel Mundt
May 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Where I used to love the selections of articles made by Holly Hughes in previous years... Ruth Reichel has successfully ruined it. I found myself tolling my eyes after numerous articles and all around bored. Where every other yearly iteration I’ve eagerly stayed up all night reading the day it is released... it’s 9 months after its release and I’ve finally just finished. Gone are the articles that Holly Hughes selected and I’m sad to say I likely won’t be purchasing and future editions if Ruth R ...more
Leslee L Downer
First, I love Ruth Reichl, all her books are on my shelves.
I'm trying to imagine what it was like to read hundreds of entries and choose which would make the cut. Tough choices!
I suppose she was trying to be fair and give a representative overview of authors. Yeah, you already know where I'm going.
I really enjoyed the writing of Ted Genoways, Harold McGee, Julia O'Malley, Francis Lam...etc...those who inform of us new techniques, ingredients, culture. Those who celebrate the joy of life, big or
...more
Jim
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
First, I am a huge fan of the The Best Food Writing series, edited by Holly Hughes, and remain puzzled by the disappearance of that series of books the last couple of years. So, I wasn't sure about this new entrant in the Best American series, but, finding nothing from Ms. Hughes, decided to go ahead and read it.

I was disappointed. From the perspective of this reader, there weren't any compelling pieces in this collection. There were some articles mentioned at the very end of the book, titled "O
...more
Liz
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just reading the introduction by Ruth Reichl made me miss Gourmet magazine anew, since in a lot of ways my favorite parts of the magazine were the articles on travel and food trends. If you enjoy food, whether eating it, making it, or both you will find something in this book for you. But fortunately for us readers, Reichl has gone beyond that and picked articles that explore school lunches, the place of women chefs in the restaurant world, the appropriation of barbecue from its African American ...more
Sarah
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I'm so glad my aunt recommended this book, because I would have never picked it out without her! I'm amazed at some poor reviews that lament stories about the politics of food, but they entirely miss the whole point. Food is never just about food. How it's grown, who prepares our food, our enjoyment of eating food, all of it is entirely imbued with culture and the human story, which is all inherently affected by politics and vice versa. I can honestly never go grocery shopping the same again. Th ...more
Beth
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
So happy that this new series has started! My favorites had to do with the intersection of race, gender, and class with food: Revenge of the Lunch Lady, the Amanda Cohen essay about female chefs, Secrets in the Sauce, and The White Lies of Craft Culture. I also really liked two of the honorable mentions that I found online: Celery Was the Avocado Toast of the Victorian Era and My Life in Domestic Goddesses, which gives a shout-out to the series editor Ruth Reichl.
Kristi
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not a collection of food porn essays... by which I meant, essays that make you hungry. There are some of those, but there are more of them that focus on larger issues in the world of food: on the role of agribusiness, the government’s manipulation of the food industry, sexual harassment in the food world, and racism in the domain of artisanal food. This means that some of the essays aren’t ‘fun’, and in truth, a few are a little dry. But most of them resonate, and I’m glad to have read t ...more
Jessemy
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Highlights:
Marissa Higgins, The Struggle of "Eating Well" When You're Poor, from Catapult
Dana Goodyear, How Driscoll's Reinvented the Strawberry, from The New Yorker
Jane Black, Revenge of the Lunch Lady, from Huffington Post
Helen Rosner, Mario Batali and the Appetites of Men, from The New Yorker
Kushbu Shah, Pawhuska or Bust: A Journey to the Heart of Pioneer Woman Country, from Thrillist
...more
Britt Caron
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was such a great collection! If you, like me, love to track/read/hear about food in all of its fabulous iterations, I definitely recommend this book. It was a great look into all parts of the sector- from
agriculture, to science to restaurants and a good look into the how and the why we eat the things we do. Looking forward to the next one!
Rashelle
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up social media for Lent and needed something to alternatively fill the snippets of down time throughout the day. I loved the mix of food and food-adjacent topics covered including eating, travel, humor, social commentary, even sports, and was happy to spend 40 days filling my brain with something more stimulating than the latest Instagram photo.
Roger
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As in any anthology there were a few pieces that didn't appeal to me, but only a few. All the others were some combination of delightful, instructive or mind opening. Jonathan Gold's take on Vespertine (a restaurant that has vexed me) was alone worth the price of admission. And Wyatt Williams retrospective on McPhee was a fitting homage to McPhee, and to oranges. ...more
Julie
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So interesting

I didn’t know about these books - the best of - before I read this one. I’m obsessed! Thought provoking articles written by a wide range of authors on an obscure range of topics with one thing in common - they were all very well written and drew the reader in. Looking forward to more in this series!
JodiP
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fun read--I liked the essays about the polititcs of food or getting into the history of a partiuclar food. I skipped what seemed a long, tedious account of pizza in Portland, OR. The series is worth reading.
Judith
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book for those of us who read cook books like novels. Lots of variety, covering many subjects. Makes me loo forward to October 2019 when the new one comes out for this year. I came away with many interesting facts I didn't know but am happy I have. ...more
Victoria Lynch
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I should give myself permission to skip stuff! Some of these essays were SO GOOD I have referenced them to other people. And some of them were about food too fancy for me, and I should have skipped them!
Ruth Dahl
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Read for a food writing class. Fun sampling of essays from 2018 that was a delight to read (most of the time. Talk to me about the ones that dragged on, and on, and on...).

Also prompted great discussions on what makes a 'good' food writing essay
...more
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Ruth Reichl is an American food writer, the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and culinary editor for the Modern Library.
Born to parents Ernst and Miriam (née Brudno), she was raised in New York City and spent time at a boarding school in Montreal. She attended the University of Michigan, where she met her first husband, the artist Douglas Hollis. She graduated in 1970 with a M.A. in art history
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