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on February 23, 2012
Food Heroes: 16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition

I'd like to see one person read Food Heroes and not be inspired to rush out and dig, forage or hunt (or at least find a way to support someone who does).

If I could have one book to explain the reason for my recent change in diet, this would be it. It's not about weight for me. It's about getting back to the roots. Georgia Pellegrini explains this pretty nicely in her introduction. To paraphrase part of her argument: Currently we have a fad-- a push for whole and organic foods. The foundation of this fad is a longing for a connection with what we're eating. And as she says, "When this tie to tradition is undone, food is much less satisfying."

In this book, Pellegrini explores the practice of 16 Culinary Artisans who are working to preserve and strengthen the traditions that tie us to our food, just like the cover says, and their stories are as beautifully written as beautifully lived. The topics covered in this book are filled with the potential to drone on and bore, but the passion and beauty that fuels the daily work of these Food Heroes also fills each page with the energy needed to save our culinary traditions and transform the relationship we have with what's on our plates.

Through this page-turner, we meet a potato breeder, striving to preserve the potatoes of our history. While most of the world imagines the brown russet potato with it's dense white "meat," David Langford nurtures potatoes of all shapes and shades of color. His description of each potato reads as if he's describing a beloved relative's personality and quirks. Our insistence on an easy and profitable potato crop has made us strangers to the many varieties David spends his life trying to preserve.

We meet a seed saver who is cataloging the many varieties of tomatoes and beans that, for the same reason as the potato (convenience and profitability), are disappearing from our plates. Bill Best, the seed saver, receives seeds from all over the world, from people hoping to preserve a piece of their culinary history and heritage. With so much of our cultural knowledge tied to our tastebuds, Bill's work is the work of an archaeologist, uncovering and protecting the clues to our past.

There's a salami maker whose tie to the land of his ancestors' is in his meat curing room. From the process he follows to achieve the perfect salami and cured meats to the healthy bacteria smuggled in from the homeland, he's spent his life successfully preserving a practice that has been in his family for generations. But his success wasn't easy. He's had to battle USDA representatives who know less about the meat curing process than I do. The organization cannot understand a traditional process that boasts a healthier product than the new, scientific, chemical-based processes.

There's a bee keeper hard at work protecting our bee populations. Small town farmers making cheese, butter, beer, whiskey and olive oil in the same way its been made for generations. Despite the efforts of government regulations, costs, and consumer demands, these artisans are quiet rebels, fighting against a system that creates obstacle after obstacle for their traditional methods. Yet, these artisans are the very people who maintain the integrity of their own practice without the interference of oversight agencies.

Because Pellegrini knows you'll be inspired to live a piece of the life these artisans have carved out for themselves, she gives several recipes after each section and a to-do list at the end.

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on January 5, 2015
Honestly it's amazing that these fine culinary masters took the time to speak with Georgia Pellegrini about preserving their respective ancient culinary crafts. This book is in some ways a History of the origins of where our food has come from and these folks want to preserve natural traditional growing processes. I shared (David Langford) the potato breeder's story with my 10th grade history students and they were simply blown away by how much he moved around during his life and the nutritional significance of this vegetable. They will never look at a baked potato or french fry the same way again! Now they are seeking out farmer's markets for heirloom potatoes with their parents! I would wholeheartedly recommend this book, Georgia Pellegrini did a 1st class job of interviewing these True Artisans ...
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on November 2, 2010
I'm not a fan of most food books these days. The ones that aren't just plain trash are overtly commercial vehicles for celebrities hawking their latest line of pots & pans. Wait a minute, those are just plain trash, too.

But once in a while, a book comes along that's written by somebody who obviously loves what they're writing about, and can do it well. This is one of those books.

Chef Georgia Pellegrini (unrelated to me) is a breath of fresh air in a culinary scene that worships 30-minute-meals and the wonders of boneless, skinless meats. She's a real food lover who values timeless traditions embodied by the slow foods and artisan producers profiled in her book. This is not a "how-to" book (though it does contain a handful of brilliant recipes), or a deep dive into a narrow area of culinary minutiae. It's an eclectic celebration of the art of artisan food processing, delivered in the form of artisan profiles. The stories are moving, heart-felt descriptions of artisans and their craft, and will make you long for the foods described in each chapter.

The only criticism I have, if you can call it that, is the Euro-centric focus (considering that most American food traditions are handed down from Europeans). Perhaps this is an opportunity to even further expand horizons for future works. I vote for a chapter on miso artisans in your next book!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 30, 2010
Georgia Pellegrini grew up with a family that used sustainable foods, she drifted to Wall Street in adulthood but quickly returned to the food world and has picked out 16 culinary heroes from across the world to write about. Her writing is both easy to read and illuminating, even if you are not quite `into' the world of sustainable ingredients. She will teach you that you definitely need to enter it and appreciate and support these men and women who are continuing the practice of good natural foods.

These heroes are ones who preserve food types and preparations of: potatoes, smoking hogs, fungus-mushrooms, beer, salami, olive oil, heirloom seeds, honeybees (containing a very interesting theory for the worrying disappearance of a number of honeybees), oysters, cheese, butter, chocolate, tamales, persimmons, whiskey and figs. The stories of these individuals and Georgia's visits to them are engrossing, she includes a to-do list and a listing of names, addresses phone numbers and web sites of those and more than she writes of. A conversion chart is included, as is a recipe index for the several recipes that follow each chapter, as well as a normal index.
Hint... do not miss the whiskey salad and bourbon pecan tart recipe - they are amazing..

As Georgia writes, people today "seek satisfaction in the drive-through. In response chefs today seduce patrons with novelty and food pyrotechnics; little towers of nothing in the center of oversized plates, while customers are increasingly distracted by what is stamped `healthy'. Artisanal beer is abandoned for a lower-calorie version. Fat is avoided like the plague. And as a result, good food has lost its luster."
This sums up what the goal of this book is and if you wish to gain knowledge of what real food is, you would do well to read and learn.
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on August 4, 2014
Georgia Pellegrini had my mouth watering and desiring everything I read about -- even WHISKEY, and I don't like whiskey. I even went online in search for one of the products. If you're a foodie and you want to connect with some of the mom and pop artisan that bring us the food we crave, you'll enjoy Food Heroes.
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on February 9, 2012
Great book, very well written with simple yet wonderful recipes. It has inspired me to spend more quality time in the garden and kitchen!
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on October 7, 2010
This book is a great read. I've learned a lot from it and really enjoy the writer's voice. It is broken down into short chapters with recipes at the end of each, so it is perfect for times when you don't have long to read. It is also great if you have time because it will be one that you may not be able to put down!
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on March 20, 2013
So interesting and informative easy read !!,,,,,,,,,, good book. Perfect condition. Received. Fast written well makes you feel like you have been there..
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on January 20, 2014
Both Girl Hunter & Food Heroes are well worth buying-full of recipes and tips. Loved reading about all of her
hunting/food travels.
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on February 22, 2011
I never got to read this book, it was stolen from my front porch. I still haven't reordered it, but I will because it is an important book that looks great.
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