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The Best American Food Writing 2019 (The Best American Series ®)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  434 ratings  ·  48 reviews
James Beard Award winner Samin Nosrat collects the years finest writing about food and drink.

Good food writing evokes the senses, writes Samin Nosrat, best-selling author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and star of the Netflix adaptation of the book. It makes us consider divergent viewpoints. It makes us hungry and motivates us to go out into the world in search of new
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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 ·  434 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
There is not much joy in this years Best Food Writing anthology (and what little there is comes in obituaries.) I look forward to these books (first the Holly Hughes series, and now the Best American series) every year and save them to read on my January beach vacation. But this one was no fun. I want to experience other peoples love of food, cooking, shopping, eating, sharing, community, family, heritage, and to understand how their experiences and feelings are different from and similar to my ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"[O]ur mouths are liminal places where food and words mingle, where hot dogs, tagliatelle, and Nigerian puff puff meet my name is, memory, and I", writes Ruby Tandoh in her piece "Sugartime" which is included in this year's The Best American Food Writing edited by the formidable Samrin Nosrat. And as Tandoh asserts there is something about food and words: the best food writing, thus, is not just a description of a meal, it is much more as the anthology proves that.

There is only one restaurant
Noreen Hernandez
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Best American Food Writing 2019
Samin Nosrat

This collection celebrates more than good food. It celebrates the good that food brings to the world. Samin Nosrat and Silvia Killingsworth compiled examples to prove, as Killingsworth explains in the Forward: "Food writing is just another way of looking at the world, and there is no one true form of it, despite what the scolds may say." The forms in the book opened up my mind to the traditions, the tears, the appropriation, the journey, and yes,
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nov 26, 2019 added it
Essay or story collections are usually hit and miss, but this was such an excellent selection of writing from start to end. In the intro Samin Nosrat says she would only edit this if she had lots of flexibility in what constitutes "best", "American", and "food writing". Food is such an integral part of culture, so this collection of "food writing" from an amazingly diverse set of writers is really an anthology of human stories.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I was very excited to read this book and found the beginning very captivating. I really appreciated Nosrats introduction that outlined her process for choosing writings and her desire to highlight authors and stories focused on women, people of color, LGBTQ, etc. as voices often excluded from food writing. Some stories drew me in strongly, like A Kingdom from Dust, In the Twin Cities..., Anthony Bourdain and the Power of Telling the Truth, and The Life of a Restaurant Inspector, to name a few, ...more
Joy Messinger
[4.5 stars] A compilation of short- and longform essays on food and culture edited with care by Samin Nosrat. I enjoyed this collection, even if I didnt love every essay, and appreciated her curatorial attention to race, gender, sexuality, region, and subject. I wouldve liked to see a more creative order (instead of alphabetical), as essay collections have the same promise as a well-ordered mixtape. Unsurprisingly, pieces by two of my perennial favorites Michael Twitty and Soleil Ho, stood out ...more
Pat Herndon
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a great book! The articles were very engaging and informative. I appreciated the variety of topics that all relate to food. Perfect collection.
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Important essays and reporting Ill return to over and over again ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars - Some of the pieces were masterfully written, making you think about food in new ways. I learned about a day in the life of a NYC restaurant inspector, about the different types of peanuts, about the heirloom beans of Mexico. Many were thought-provoking, such as the article that explained a movement in a town in Alaska to have nursing homes provide traditional foods to their elderly Inuit patients. But the collection is uneven, and some pieces were the types of articles that if I came ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
5/5 for Samin Nosrat's selection of essays
4/5 for the essays themselves

These essays are a must-read. It is a luminous, critical, engaging, and varied collection that explores food as a throughline of communities and their (geographic) movement, evolution, and erasure. We learn about the billionaire couple who transformed the Lost Hills into the pistachio and pomegranate empire known as Wonderful, the phenomenon of the Kit Kat in Japan, the racial and gendered history of sugar production, the
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This edition contains some very fine pieces that I will want to revisit, including pieces by Mark Arax on the Reznick family, Ian Frazer on Mondella maraschino cherries (and other products!), Soleil Ho on prejudices against whole races because a few eat dog, Tejal Rao on the big business of the Kit Kat candy bar in Japan, Kathryn Schultz on the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Hell's Backbone Grill, and Benjamin Aldes Worgaft on Jonathan Gold. The edition is a little too ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this collection of food writing to be immensely captivating and thought-provoking. Many, many of the pieces struck a deep chord of curiosity in me, from my sudden interest in salmiakki (intensely salted licorice beloved in Scandinavia) to my own ignorance that Veganism is often viewed as a solely white "lifestyle".

The pieces that Samin Nosrat assembled here vary greatly in topic, tone, length, and classification -- but nearly all of them energized me in a way I had not expected.

In the
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reading
Every article in this book was fantastic. Some moved me to tears ("On Reading Jonathan Gold" helped me mourn the loss of LA's patron saint), some to action (I will never eat Wonderful Pistachios again after reading "A Kingdom From Dust"). All of them taught me something new. In a year where we lost both Anthony Bourdain and Jonathan Gold (both have articles about their legacies in this collection), this was cathartic reading. I was lucky enough to see Samin Nosrat at a bookstore event towards ...more
Amanda Spiegelberg
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - picked up this book for the sole reason that Samin Nosrat edited the anthology and it turned out to be so great. Nosrat states in the intro that she wanted to explore what best, American, and food writing all mean and these pieces do just that. In addition, I loved that I could pick it up in spurts and learn about everything from the Resnicks control of water here in California to the Finnish adoration of salty licorice. Stand outs for me: Flavors of Space Time, A Kingdom from Dust, Bean ...more
Ann Fisher
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Samin Nosrat is a great editor for this year's edition of The Best American Food Writing. The book dances all over the world--salty licorice in Finland, Kit Kat bars in Japan, fried chicken in Ghana. As is certain to happen every year, any faithful New Yorker reader will find themselves rereading pieces they'd previously enjoyed, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. As well she might, Nosrat particularly singles out "A Kingdom from Dust" about California almond and pomegranate farmer Stewart ...more
Taranee Anne
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
While some pieces were incredibly good, others felt like they were selected for diversity of content/subject matter rather than for quality of writing. Since when is BuzzFeed News a source of notable food writing, or journalism for that matter? Was there no good fiction or memoirs in 2019? Does this collection have to be strictly nonfiction? Without more variety in styles and genres, this collection overall comes across as dull and academic. At the least, I would have liked some commentary from ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mfk, fdn
Compiling an anthology is no easy task. Nosrat and Killingsworth did a fine job pulling writings from a variety of publications and assembling them into an equitable and ethical collection of works. My only complaint was that most of the works came from the same few East coast publications and the remainder came from the West coast. They should ensure a greater source of publications in the final edit. Diverse issues and voices are given space and theres a ton of resources mentioned to inspire ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Best of" collections are usually hit or miss -- some great things, some 'meh' things. I enjoyed every essay in this collection. Favorites were learning about Kit Kats in Japan, salty licorice in Finland, efforts to have native foods served to indigenous peoples in nursing homes in Alaska, and the life of a restaurant inspector.
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing writing on a wide and eclectic array of topics - everything from musing on family and heritage, history, current political landscape, agriculture and food production; from small businesses to big conglomerates making an impact on local communities. It's fascinating, sometimes serious, sometimes hilarious, thought-provoking, or touching. Such a wonderful book!
Suzanne Hamilton
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
These essays cover a surprisingly wide range from the arcane (heirloom beans) to the political (water access, junk food) and take the reader around the world. Who knew about the Japanese fixation on KitKat Bars? Or the back story of maraschino cherries? Not I, for sure. I'm glad I read these. Pure pleasure, mostly.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this eclectic collection. All Californians should be required to read "A Kingdom from Dust" by Mark Arax. My other favorites were stories about kit kits in Japan, the legacies of Jonathan Gold and Anthony Bourdain, a maraschino mogul hiding a big secret in his factory in NY, and the gay man who brought tapas to America (Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, who I had never heard of).
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this anthology and will incorporate it into a yearly tradition. Samin did an amazing job curating the pieces and I now have some new favorite writers that I will begin to follow and read. The Bourdain and Gold stories gutted me and one hell of a story about cherries 😳 definitely worth your time if you have the slightest interest in food, travel or culture.
Diane B
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, food
A great variety of flavours in this anthology, and being a fan of Samin Nosrat I had to sample the buffet.

From salty Finnish liquorice to virginity tests with eggs; homages to Anthony Bourdain and Jonathon Gold; Kit Kats in Japan; water theft and exploitation of agriculture workers. The bigger story about the origins of food and musings on meaning.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, essays, food
These essays covered a variety of topics related to food-I learned about topics as varied as food science, other cultures, and the environmental impact of huge farming companies. Reading this collection was both delightful and thought provoking.
Cindy M. Brown
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking collection of essays on the people who eat, prepare, and produce our food. I enjoyed this infusion of narratives illuminating everything from the historical account of goober peas to the ethical economics of farm to table.
Cyndie Todd
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you love everything food, restaurant and restaurant culture, youve probably already read this book. If you want to love food and food culture even more than you already do, read this book. If nothing else, read A Kingdom of Dust. Especially if you live in or are from California.

Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maybe not all the writing is 5 stars. Maybe there are moments that slip and slide a bit. But its a wonderful collection of writing placed in just the right order to take you along for the ride. It made me want to travel more thoughtfully and eat better. ...more
David Albán
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was somewhat out of my comfort zone but quite lovely. Food and food writing is never just about food and I appreciated the humanity and human elements all of these different pieces brought to the table (lol)
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I bought this book on a whim and was very glad I did so. There were some very engaging pieces of writing in it. Some pieces left me thinking about their information and the topic for days afterwards
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