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Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties, from Kansas City to Cuzco

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  439 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Calvin Trillin has never been a champion of the “continental cuisine” palaces he used to refer to as La Maison de la Casa House. What he treasures is the superb local specialty. And he will go anywhere to find one. As it happens, some of his favorite dishes can be found only in their place of origin. Join Trillin on his charming, funny culinary adventures as he samples fri ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2003)
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183rd out of 699 books — 1,324 voters
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Schmacko
There are a few things I’ve learned about Calvin Trillin. Foremost, he is a very good reporter; he works for New Yorker magazine, and his descriptions here are detailed yet succinct. Obviously, he is also a person supremely obsessed with food, as Feeding a Yen has him trotting the globe in a mad search for the local rarities he loves. He sometimes reveals a congenial, slightly dry sense of humor. Finally—and I only got this by sensing what was conspicuously missing from Feeding a Yen–he doesn’t ...more
Marguerite
May 24, 2008 Marguerite rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Foodies
Recommended to Marguerite by: NYT
Calvin Trillin's food writing ranks right up there with the late Laurie Colwin, Jane and Michael Stern and Jeffrey Steingarten. It's food as experience, quest, pilgrimage, sacrament, with a lower-case "s." And, it's a salute to Food Done Right (Done Write?). We've all had memorable dishes (muffuletta from the Central Grocery in New Orleans comes to mind, as do J.K.'s baby backribs on the Outer Banks and perfectly cooked beef with fried beet and sweet potato chips from Aujour'dui in 1989 in Bosto ...more
Dan Russell
A delightful read, with roughly one laugh-out-loud moment per chapter, and each chapter is one adventure in fine eats. Trillin is a droll man who skates through the world of epicures with a slightly jaundiced eye and a more than a few bon mots. He’s appropriately skeptical, but also very reasonable. What’s good is good, and he cuts through the hype and blather with a sharpened pen. He does have a few things he loves to go on about (boudin, the Cajun sausage, is a repeating theme, as is take-out ...more
Joanna
I enjoy reading Calvin Trillin. When he writes about his now-late wife, Alice, it's some of the most touching prose I've ever read. His descriptions of food and his wonderful willingness to throw himself into a search for the best fish taco is fabulous. But I agree with another reviewer who commented that Trillin seems to withhold too much of himself in these essays. He comments lightly on trying to convince his daughters to return from California to New York, but never really delves more deeply ...more
Rebecca
There's probably more to Trillin than self-important globe-trotting gluttony. Unfortunately that's what this collection showcases. It's not that he doesn't write authoritatively and respectfully about a whirlwind of food cultures. Everything he says about Ecuadorian cuisine (fanesca!! chifas!!) rings true, for example. It's more his tone, which he thinks is delightfully witty (he's forever quoting himself) but which reeks of entitlement and appropriation. I mean, clearly the people of the world ...more
Sarah
Calvin Trillin is a treat to read, witty, engaging and warm, but this is not food writing, per se. More of a diary of his cravings and restaurant visits. Still, very entertaining and worth a read.
Marcia
Love anything Calvin Trillin but sometimes he meandered a bit and I would get lost or fall asleep. But maybe it's not Calvin Trillin; maybe it's the Thanksgiving turkey.
Bayneeta
I am a Calvin Trillin fan, particularly of his nonficiton. He sometimes travels the world in search of favorite foods. I think his The Tummy Trilogy: American Fried; Alice, Let's Eat; and Third Helpings are even better. But I was much younger when I read them; they have a very warm place in my heart.

I confess to a fantasy of being married to Trillin. Then I read About Alice , his loving memoir of his wife--who was beautiful, intelligent, and close to perfect. I was forced to accept that ev
...more
Matt
"Feeding a Yen" is strikingly similar, in many ways, to Jeffrey Steingarten's book "The Man Who Ate Everything." Yet while Trillin shares Steingarten's obsession in food, as well as his humor, he lacks Steingarten's meticulousness and focus. As such, while "The Man Who Ate Everything" provides the reader with a fair amount of practical knowledge, Trillin's book tends to veer of into rambling personal narratives that, ultimately, have very little to do with the foods in question. It's humorous a ...more
Donna Jo Atwood
I love to read Calvin Trillin on the supbject of food. He makes me think that I would be willing to taste anything. (Which is a lie, but who cares)
Feeding the Yen is about the foods that never appear outside the local market--they usually don't travel well or the appeal is limited or the production is small. But sometimes the taste lingers in the memory and you have to go back to try it again--and again.


Task 30.5D Virtual Block Party--Food-related nonfiction noncookbook
John
Calvin Trillin is this as a rail, yet seems to eat a dozen or so meals a day. He must be like one of those hot dog eating champions. This is a little love letter to local cuisines: fish tacos in San Diego, ceviche in Ecuador, BBQ in Kansas City. Trillin also gets in some digs at the online "foodie" community, particularly Chowhound. Nothing Earth shattering here, but fun anecdotes from a guy you'd like to share a meal with.
Davide
This book encapsulates why I travel. Hell, it's why I get up in the morning! From supermarkets shelves in Hong Kong to pastry shops in Queens to guinea pig in Peru (which I indeed did order and eat; it tasted like bad dark meat chicken). Hooray for Calvin Trillin (and his editors) for putting so many of these wander/hungerlust stories together in one book. I want seconds!
Elisa
I wanted to like this book. the food topics were excellent. I just couldn't get into Trillin's style of writing. I enjoy food and reading about food and learning about food and history of food and culture. The food writing was good, but I really wasn't into Trillin's stories about his family. Usually I enjoy reading about such things, but not this style, not this... family.
Susan
This book contains fourteen of the humorous essays about food that have made Trillin famous. Ranging from the origins of the fish taco to the problems of tracking an elusive pumpernickel bagel, the essays cover local specialties around the world. Trillin also touches on the question of whether, in a blindfold test, experts can really tell red from white wine.
Rachael
Trillin collects a series of articles/essays in which he discusses local food specialties that he craves and the lengths he will go to get them (traveling to Ecuador for cerviche, for example). Very funny. Laugh out loud funny, in fact, and Trillin is as interested i nthe people involved as he is in the food. Well, almost as interested in the people.
gwen
I will always love Calvin Trillin unconditionally, but this wasn't his best collection -- a little one-note and blah. It's awesome that he gets so focused on these random individual dishes, but hearing about them one after another after another gets old, and what this book really did is remind me that I'd like to go back and finish his Tummy Trilogy.
Dave
I always find that the problem with reading a book of essays is that several are good, several are OK and one or two are total clunkers. I loved the piece on New Mexican cuisine and pimientos de padron, but really struggled through the last chapter. A few of the other essays were forgettable. I'd tell you which, but I can't remember them.
Marcus
Trillin is a very funny writer--on food, politics, and myriad other subjects. Here he travels the world in search of local deliciousness. Of personal interest to me--his amusing, charming (and failed) attempts to lure his daughter back home to New York by claiming that the food is so much better than her new hometown...San Francisco.
Joyce
Dec 14, 2008 Joyce added it
When Calvin Trillin started writing his essays on vernacular foodways, the big irony was that a hyper-sophisticated New Yorker with access to the best cuisine would instead choose BBQ, bagels, and boudin as his favorite foods. Now, the challenge seems to be that there are fewer baffling but authentic new food experiences to discover.
David
Chasing down unique edibles available in select locations, our intrepid food-lover traipses all over the globe. At times the author seems a tad too obsessed with these hard-to-find delicacies. I suppose some people really do get all worked up about the perfect bagel and such, but do we need to go on and on about it?
Paddy
Currently on a re-reading jag--first Edward P. Jones' two short story collections, which are excellent in every regard, now Calvin Trillin. His amazement that he found his wife Alice and that she married him lingers, even nine years after her death. His writing is always a pleasure to read.
Eddie
The latest in the very funny series of food reviews that began in the 70s with books like Alice Let's Eat and American Fried. This time he travels to numerous cities to find the specialties that can only be found in those cities or villages, like pan bagnat in Nice or posole in Santa Fe.
Linda
I've loved Calvin Trillin's food writing ever since way back when he published "American Fried" -- and I think "Feeding a Yen" is his best yet. His effortless, elegant prose and self-deprecating tone is coupled with fabulous food finds like socca and the green sandwich.
Julie
Reading Calvin Trillin is a treat, and I was lucky to catch him speaking about this book for the radio show "West Coast Live" at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley in the Spring of 2006. He was charming in person as well, and his writing is witty and warm. Enjoy.
Jessica
Trillin's witty collection of essays about sampling local food that he can't easily get in Manhattan. He seeks out such culinary delights as fish tacos, posole, macaroni pie, pan bagnat, and barbeque pork sandwiches. Excellent read for any chowhound.
Jan
Nov 24, 2012 Jan added it
Actually I technically haven't finished this yet. Since it's my only unread Calvin Trillin food book, I am hoarding each chapter over a period of years, the way that others keep a bottle of Macallan 25-year partially full for, well, decades.
Heather Roberts
Naughty, delicious, so clever and thrillingly behind the scenes international. Just the way I like it. I'd linger, eat, share exciting stories, explore fascinating country/people with him any day.

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Funny, funny mister.
Hannah
This is a wonderful, quick read. More of a food travelogue than a highfalutin' foodie book. Trillin's sardonic narration entertains admirably as he takes the reader around to his favorite restaurants in his favorite city (NYC, of course).
Holly Booms Walsh
Great little essays by a food writer about regional foods and cravings that cannot be fufilled until you revist the area that produces them. This was my introduction to Calvin Trillin's writing, and I'm definitely going back for seconds!
Rachel
I really enjoyed a few essays; others were a slog. I'd like to read more of his work, though.
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Calvin (Bud) Marshall Trillin is an American journalist, humorist, and novelist. He is best known for his humorous writings about food and eating, but he has also written much serious journalism, comic verse, and several books of fiction.

Trillin attended public schools in Kansas City and went on to Yale University, where he served as chairman of the Yale Daily News and became a member of Scroll an
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More about Calvin Trillin...
About Alice The Tummy Trilogy Tepper Isn't Going Out Alice, Let's Eat: Further Adventures of a Happy Eater Travels with Alice

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“Daddy, how come in Kansas City the bagels taste like just round bread?” 4 likes
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