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Foodie Handbook

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From Pim Techamuanvivit, knowledgeable foodie and "queen of the food bloggers," comes this engaging guidebookto all things food-related. Pim has toured the globe to bring hungry people up to date with what's happening in thefood world through Chez Pim, a Web site that attracts 10,000 hits a week. In The Foodie Handbook, she collects tips, secrets, anecdotes, and recipes from the world's top chefs, including Anthony Bourdain and Fergus Henderson. Food lovers everywhere will relish Pim's sage advice, including tips on outsnobbing the staff of a Michelin three-star restaurant, preparing simple but intensely flavored dishes at home, and eating street food in any city in theworld.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published August 26, 2009

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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Amy.
653 reviews132 followers
October 4, 2009
Okay. I have to say that I'm not impressed with this "(almost) definitive guide to gastronomy" by "Pim, queen of food bloggers". I've followed several food blogs from time to time and learned much more in those blogs than in this book. But I did learn a lot about Pim from reading her "foodie" handbook:
1. Pim does not like beets and even the best beet recipe is lost on her
2. Pim has enough money to travel all over the world eating food
3. Pim loves truffles but scoffs at truffle oil
4. Pim eats at fancy restaurants most people can't afford
5. Pim is Thai and thinks fruity wines go best with Thai food
6. Pim likes adding vanilla beans to most desserts
7. Pim likes "simple" foods with just a few exotic ingredients
8. Pim thinks boxed wines can only be enjoyed by people who don't have refined tastes in wine

But I don't think Pim and I can be friends because there's a difference between being a foodie and being a food snob. I think Pim tries not to be a food snob (or "empress" as she likes to say), but she really is. According to her:
1. I'm supposed to go to expensive restaurants enough to be known by name and what I like to order
2. I'm supposed to poo poo out of season ingredients
3. I shouldn't eat at restaurant with a large menu or one that has menu items from multiple cultures
4. I'm supposed to order wine with my meals
5. I'm supposed to travel the world eating local
6. I should return a knife with a small spot on it or ask my waiter to replace my water glass if it has too much ice in it
7. I'm not supposed to like unsophisticated sushi that has has avocado in it, has sauce on it, or is served with a dollop of wasabi.

Let's face it, when 17 out of your 50 things "every foodie" must do includes traveling abroad to do it, I think you've alienated 98% of your foodie readership. I don't think that you have to have lots of vacation time to burn, be rich, or have access to exotic ingredients to enjoy food. Why not tell how to order more authentic dishes from foreign restaurants rather than the Americanized fare instead of telling what restaurants I must visit around the world? Also, the section of the book devoted to drinking like a foodie was nearly unreadable unless you're familiar with scores of different types of wines. Surely drinking like a foodie doesn't rely entirely on drinking wine. There are so many more things in the world to drink besides wine. How about a mango lassie at an Indian restaurant or a drink made of fresh cantaloupe juice at a Mexican restaurant?

When I started reading this book, I thought that the point was to show that the best food is often simple like Warm Apricots With Honey and Saffron or Simple Bread and Onion Soup. She does have some excellent-looking recipes scattered throughout the book. While some of them do call for simple ingredients, others would require a citywide or internetwide search for the ingredients (hibiscus flowers, truffles, lychee, fancy oils, etc.). But that's not a bad thing. It's nice to learn about something new like hibiscus to add to something common like strawberries. I'm excited, too, about trying her Pad Thai recipe since it's her signature dish. She offers an idea for having a Pad Thai party and having everyone bring one of the ingredients for Pad Thai. She also offers the idea of creating a signature dish of your own though trying out variations on the recipe until it's uniquely and perfectly yours.

Don't get me wrong, this book isn't bad, but I'd love to see another foodie write a response to this book that is less food snobbish. Sure, it's fine to eschew processed foods in favor of fresh foods, it's great to insist on quality ingredients, and it's interesting to see what the world has to offer. However, Pim's a bit too snobby for my tastes. I'm sure that there are surely others who are bigger food snobs than Pim. However, I think I'll stick to my own level of foodiness for now. I'll order the sushi with the avocado, not go to restaurants I can't afford, drink Riesling (and sometimes boxed wine) with anything I want to, and cook with the spices in my cabinet that are more than 6 months old. And I'm okay with that.

P.S. You can find Pim's food blog (which I like better than her book) here at Chez Pim.

Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.
Profile Image for Lorin Kleinman.
55 reviews13 followers
January 17, 2010
The Foodie Handbook is not so much—as the title suggests—a definitive guide to gastronomy, as a tour of Pim Techamuanvivit’s occasionally idiosyncratic ideas about food. The voice is the same one that has made her blog so popular, and the book is full of (really quite adorable) pictures of Pim.

There is genuinely useful information: avoiding bad restaurants, or food poisoning when eating street food, for instance. The recipes range from an easy pie crust to a quite elaborate pad thai, are clearly written, and look extremely tempting. Her suggestions for fifty things that foodies can do are good ones, particularly if they’re taken as a jumping-off point rather than strict prescriptions. Some are simple, such as eating a ripe peach (yum!), some a bit harder (cooking without recipes) and some are aspirational—eating at El Bulli, for instance.

This book has garnered quite a lot of grumpy online reviews, including a surprising number from people who say they hate the term “foodie,” but decided to read it anyway. I suspect that if it had been titled “Pim Techamuanvivit’s very personal guide to what she likes to cook and eat,” it would have irritated many fewer people.

Needless to say, non-foodies and people who think of three-star French restaurants as pretentious will not enjoy The Foodie Handbook. But for anyone who likes the blog, considers him-or herself a foodie, wants to cook more and better, and thinks of a visit to Troisgros as worth saving up for, this is a pleasant and occasionally inspiring read.
Profile Image for Eling.
169 reviews14 followers
September 14, 2010
I enjoyed this well enough. Pim's writing is entertaining and casual, perfect blog fodder, but I was hoping for a bit more from the book. The recipes are a nice touch--definitely some gems-- but I wasnt looking fir a cookbook.

Pim clearly has a wealth of experience in eating, as well as the connections to continue having amazing foodie moments, and she does know her stuff. However, I don't think the book is quite extensive or in-depth enough to be called even an "(almost) definitive" guide to gastronomy. She drops brief tips that are meant to show off her insider knowledge, but doesn't provide any real in-depth evidence or info beyond her own opinions.

I'd be more likely to recommend this to new foodies-- not a lot here for anyone who has already made a decent effort in cultivating their inner foodie or even just watched a lot of Anthony Bourdain.

Overall, entertaining enough, and def a quick read. The recipes seem very solid as well, though you can likely get all of that from the author's blog. I am glad I took the time to read this & will certainly check in at Chez Pim (that's the blog) but I think I would have been disappointed if I'd purchased this at its list price.
Profile Image for Cari.
280 reviews147 followers
July 11, 2010
Let's be honest: I'm not a foodie, I can't tell one seasoning from another, and I can't cook to save my life. (Seriously. Without the microwave and my basic pasta-boiling skills, I would starve.) Yet even I recognize this book is a (almost) definitive guide to nothing but the author's own culinary likes and dislikes...which is fine by me. Included are some really intriguing (and relatively simple) recipes that I've marked to try when I'm feeling particularly daring (or like burning the house down), and it was perfect for what I bought it for in the first place. I'm guessing if you're a foodie or at all advanced in the eating/cooking arts, you will want to look elsewhere. But if you're a kitchen idiot like me? This book is just fine.

Also? Pretty, pretty food porn...er, I mean, pictures!
Profile Image for Nikki.
34 reviews52 followers
April 23, 2014
It really boggles the mind that so many people despise the term "foodie". Well what in the Sam Hill term should you use instead? Foodist? Foodver? Foodabinga? Foodemic? Foodmando? Foodanista?

It troubles me that there is such disdain for a word and that it is immediately mocked by those who will set themselves apart by declaring that they are not in any way "foodies" because they are more better than all foodies (or fatties as some things I read liked to call people with an "over-interest" in food and eating) by refusing to take part in the flim-flam that being a foodie is, despite the fact that the mere declaration that you are NOT a foodie, while actually being a foodie means that you are even more pretentious and snobbish than just saying, yeah, whatever, I'm a big fat foodie. Wait I just came up with another term - we can call those anti-foodies "snoodies" (snob+foodie).

Pim Techedintheheadabit (that is her name right?) has written a book called The Foodie Handbook that is based on her supremely popular blog called Chez Pim that I never heard of before and it's supposedly been online like ten freaking years (which means it was a blog before there were even blogs - snoodie anyone?).

Well the truth is Pim's Cup is the girly behind (or in front of, however they manage it) the 2 star Michelin'ed David Kinch (making her Kinch's Kitchen Wench or Kwinch) from the well-reviewed CA restaurant Manresa as well as GQ's cheffie of the year in 2011. They have been together for seven years and there is a large age difference between them as well as height and weight (David being portly and taller and Pim being tiny and smaller).

Does having this critically acclaimed Chef boyfriend of advancing years have anything to do with Pim's sudden book deal, cooking classes (held at the farm where he is involved in biodynamic farming for his restaurant) and coverage from media like The New York Times and every food magazine and blog on Earth? Ya think?

Pim's pedigree seems to be that she was from a wealthy Thai family in Bangkok who sent her to the US for school and she messed around with some internet stuff until she worked out that having a chef boyfriend might be the boost she needed to make this writing/macaron-making/jam and marmalade production thingee take off.

Pim's a big ol' name-dropper she is (calling Anthony Bourdain "Tony" for instance since they are the best of friends obviously) and world-traveler with unlimited funds to dine in the best restaurants in the world and rent homes in Provence and Tuscany and enjoy cooking locally all over the world. All while making marmalade that Nigella Lawson loves while keeping her older fatter boyfriend enthralled with her jam as well.

Her writing is not especially creative or interesting and although she is opinionated she seems to often be talking out of her ass, such as the mini-chapter in the book about sushi where she contradicts herself by saying that sushi chefs only care about taking your money except for a few places on earth that are so exclusive that you will never get in there but she has and it was so worth it and then although she tells you to not pay attention to any sushi etiquette if you dine at these exclusive two or three locations where you will not ever get in but she has because she is far better connected than you, you should pay close attention to a friend who will take you there (like if she was your friend, but she is not because why would Pim be friends with the likes of you and take you to the best sushi place in the world, I mean, come on!) and hope they know the particular etiquette for this rarefied sushi place so you can follow exactly what they do provided they are not a complete idiot and you will be shamed, possibly banned and inevitably looked down upon by Pim herself. Oh and don't eat sushi with avocado you knave!

Pim is thoroughly unlikeable and I haven't even gotten to the part in the book where there are about fifty photos and more than half are black & white photos of Pim. Another reviewer called the book Pim's Pin-ups which would be accurate except that Pim is not the most comely of kitchen wench's and having page after page of Pim really detracted from the food.

Gauging when next there would be a photo of Pim became like a drinking game in the middle of reading the book. I ignored entire top ten lists and other blather simply to see the next artsy photo of Pim reading some word art on a wall at elBulli (the supposed best or top or greatest whatever the hell it is pretentious restaurant in the world), Pim taking a sip of wine, Pim stirring something, Pim walking, Pim smiling, Pim shopping, Pim with a camera, Pim with an ice cream, Pim laughing, Pim shaving her legs (that must have been in there, I know there was a Pim flossing her teeth photo) and now it's time to take a drink! Am I smashed yet? If I'm three sheets to the wind do I need to finish this ridiculous book?

Turns out, no, I do not have to. No one does. The bottom line is Pim likes to talk more about Pim than food, being a foodie or snoodie and frankly she just comes off as rudie. She really has nothing to say except that she is more better than you and I suppose she could do that just as well on her blog while selling out her little marmalade making classes at the Lovesick Farm or whatever venture her boyfriend David Knitwit hooked her up with. Yes for $115 you too can learn to make jam from Pim and be a better person for it. Sorry, more better. Like Pim.

I give it two stars and not one star for the following reasons:

1. The cover is a joke on whoever purchases it, as it will surely give you a paper-cut before you tear it off with impunity.
2. Most of the people who have reviewed the book here on Amazon did not actually purchase it like I did, so I have to save face somehow.
3. I feel bad for the word "foodie" like I feel bad for ugly dogs and Anne Hathaway.
4. I only paid 99 cents for it.
Profile Image for Shannon Kauderer.
145 reviews1 follower
April 10, 2020
It was ok. There was a lot that I already knew and a number of the recipies aren't ones I'm likely to make due to lack of good quality ingredients in the area. I liked the list of things a foodie should try that was at the end of the book, a number of those were interesting and specific.
Profile Image for Cara.
Author 18 books83 followers
September 23, 2010
Just when I started worrying that I'd gone over the edge with the food nut thing, this book showed me I still have a waaaays to go.

I agree with the overall principle of the book: eat really good stuff and enjoy it fully. It's when we get down to the details that I realize there are still a whole lot of ingredients that are de rigueur for a foodie that I've never even heard of. She does a good job with the recipes, though, walking the reader through the hows and whys of making a dish, as opposed to giving detailed instructions to blindly follow without really learning anything that could be applied to any other dish. Still, though, each recipe that I look at and think "Hey, I'd like to make that!" involves at least one obscure ingredient or tool, and the overall experience is adding up to a great feeling of tiredness.


Overall, kind of a cool book. There are two things I want to try making from it: Chorizo, Eggs, and Potatoes Cooked in a Cast-Iron Pan, and Rustic Fruit Galette. But then again, these are the simplest things in the whole book. I enjoyed reading about someone else appreciating food as much as I do, or really, more. It got a little old after awhile, though: just too much. But I'm happy to find that I'm far from extreme on the food snob spectrum. That's a relief.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
6 reviews
January 23, 2013
The focus is on the very upscale, and large parts don't mesh with my own approach to eating, particularly the emphasis on rather expensive, imported ingredients such as truffles. I'd love to be able to spend a week each year in the same chateau in France...it's unlikely I'll be able to do so. On the other hand, there is excellent practical advice on choosing good places to eat, safe street eating, some very good recipes, and an engaging writing style. I picked up a copy inexpensively, and I'd suggest looking for a copy at a used bookstore or a library first, I'd probably have been disapointed if I'd paid full cover price.
Profile Image for Marjanne.
583 reviews3 followers
January 3, 2011
Generally I liked what this author had to say about food, but I didn't agree with everything. I will probably hold on to some of the recipes, but I highly doubt that three star restaurants are anywhere in my future (and I'm not really all that upset by it). The author does seem a bit pretentious at times and that turned me off, and I pretty much skipped over the section on alcohol as I don't drink. Otherwise a couple of good ideas.
Profile Image for Diana Lupu.
104 reviews14 followers
October 6, 2013
I was reading about this book online and then I ventured to my local bookstore and was delighted to find it discounted at about a quarter of its regular price. I was very excited when I started reading but sort of lost interest half way through. Pretentious, name dropping, recommending dinners at L'Arpege at 280 euros/person, exotic ingredients you don't normally get. I got maybe 3 recipes I can try out of it. Meh...
Profile Image for Dee.
353 reviews
March 23, 2011
Pim clearly loves food and is deeply knowledgeable about it. Her recipes draw from a variety of sources and many of them sound delicious. The foodie to-do list at the back of the book was fun to read. That said, her book could have used more editing: distracting grammar mistakes, unnecessary snark about vegans/ geeks, etc. A fun library read but not necessarily one I'd purchase.
Profile Image for Rachael.
44 reviews
July 8, 2010
It was fun to read Pim's views on food and drool over some of the places she has been and things she has eaten. However, I think if you're looking on a definitive guide to being a foodie, this book gives a method that isn't totally accessible to a lot of people because of it's focus on world travel and Michelin star food.
March 5, 2010
I will enjoy trying to make some of these recipes and one or two things of the "Fifty things every foodie should do, or at least try, once in her life" like " Sip a perfect espresso at Caffé Mulassano in Turin" or " Throw a Pad Thai party with your friends".
Profile Image for Julie.
5 reviews
October 16, 2011
Pretentious and unattainable for 99% of readers-- this gives the word "foodie" an even worse connotation. The pictures are beautiful, and her pad Thai recipe is spot-on, which is the only reason I've given this boom two stars. Glad I got it on remainder.
Profile Image for Cordelia Yu.
14 reviews10 followers
March 30, 2012
While the recipes were good and it made a few good points, the book included far too much name dropping. It spent too much time telling readers how to act like foodies and not enough about being foodies.
Profile Image for Christina.
19 reviews2 followers
November 13, 2009
i just was not impressed at all by this book. i adore food and this book was just blah.
Profile Image for Louis.
194 reviews22 followers
April 11, 2012
Really glad I picked this up in the cheapie section of the bookstore.Nothing of any redeeming quality and the author pre-supposes everyone has the money to fly around the world tasting food.
Profile Image for Melissa.
23 reviews
October 8, 2012
I would love it if Pim would move to Saugatuck and become my new best friend, she is amazing!
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