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Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite Paperback – November 25, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This cornucopia of previously published pieces by James Beard Award–winning food writer Thorne, from his newsletter, Simple Cooking, along with a few from other publications, showcases his relaxed, unfussy attitude, refreshing in this age of cookbook and food-personality overabundance. That casualness comes through on subjects from bagna cauda to pepper pot. It's all foodstuff to him, and his affection for foods of all kinds is boundless. Some of the most intriguing suggestions, reprinted from a regular feature of the newsletter, reflect an awareness that the avocado-green electric range is as legitimate as the Viking. Thorne likes to delve into the source and cultural history of individual dishes, and many spur-of-the-moment concoctions, whose recipes are given, were prepared out of a sense of what-the-heck invention and appetite. He fervently promotes his belief that in every foodie lurks a cook capable of doing wonders with prepared foods, that the opposite also holds, and that the ultimate authority on food is the person eating. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Those new to [Thorne's work] will experience the joy of prose that welcomes you to the hearth and invites you to stay . . . Each nuance and thought provides a doorway into the contemplation of a life well-savored.” ―Kyla Wazana, San Francisco Chronicle on Pot on the Fire

“The Thornes will bring out the culinary adventurer in you, whether or not you ever leave home . . . Everthing John Thorne writes, in prose rubbed shiny like river stones, is . . . rich in substance and texture.” ―Sylvia Carter, Newsday on Pot on the Fire

“With every collection, [Thorne's] accounts . . . make richer reading.” ―Corby Kummer, The New York Times Book Review on Pot on the Fire


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; 1st edition (November 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374531439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374531430
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,824,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. Wood on January 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What a truly pleasurable book. John Thorne continues his ongoing conversation about cooking, food, and life, and the rest of us are privileged to listen in. His intellectual rigor is notable, but there is no element of pretention in it. Rather, he tuns his attention to good things and gives a great deal of careful thought to their history and how best to do them justice. It is also a very funny book, and the best antidote I've found to the current depressing parade of egomaniacal chefs'compendiums and "smile big and get your cooking over with in a hurry" non-cookbooks. Highly recommended for any serious cook and for anyone who likes to think about food. Lovers of good essays will like it too.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Aceto TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I always appreciate the careful reviews of Mr. Marold. I see he has fallen into Mr. Thorne's trap. I myself did until I figured out that Mr. Thorne is a bona fide crank. He is a cranky writer and a bitter observer of the food scene. Hence his appreciation of bitter marmalade. And then he turns right around and gives you new direction on good jams and preserves that he now prefers.

Now that am poor again, "Mouth Wide Open" is the perfect book for me in these miraculous times of ours. I have not yet bought this latest book of his, I but keep renewing from my library as I slowly work through it. He makes hash of our cult chefs and turns on the kitchen sink disposal for our kitchen celebrities. He is looking to pick a fight. He does not like to spend money. He wants to play with his food. Bravo!

There is nothing much more fun than a food fight. So long as you hang in with his extended diatribes, Mr. Thorne eventually gets around to his points. He got me so excited with something he got from a box of De Cecco fusilli pasta that I went out and bought a box. I had been buying boutique pasta at three times the price, but there it was with the same dang "Fusilli with Tomato and Green Olive Sauce" on the back. Thorne turns the makings inside out and upside down (NO TOMATOES!!), but he works into a variation that rhymes pretty well.

His chapter on Cod and Potato is for the ages. This is a book for reading, argument (even if only alone) and only then cooking. He likes powerful cooking concepts that can play out in different ways without quite loosing touch.

Try his fooling around with making mayo on a plate with a fork. You could learn sumpin'.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Mouth Wide Open' is John Thorne's fourth book, each volume being a collection of articles from his self-published journal `Simple Cooking'. I cannot be more delighted in seeing this book, as I was just recently wondering whether we would ever see any more from the good Mr. Thorne and his distaff collaborator and wife, Matt Lewis Thorne.
Even more than in all his previous books, Mr. Thorne validates exactly my approach to reading and reporting on cookbooks. At one point, he states that the most interesting kind of writing a professional chef can do is to describe how they cook at home. This fits exactly my feelings about books such as Jacques Pepin's `Chez Jacque' and `Fast Food My Way', Alice Waters' `The Art of Simple Food', and Eric Rippert's `A Return to Cooking'.
Thorne's own food writing embraces an approach to recipes which matches my own reading and writing, and which probably drives some of my readers to distraction, when I don't get around to actually cooking the recipes. This approach may be compared to Biblical textual criticism, where scholars adjudicate the authenticity of many different versions and fragments of versions for the canonical works in scripture. My favorite Thorne exercise of this sort is his essay on New England clam chowder in an earlier book, `Serious Pig'. If there is any lesson to be learned from his many exercises in this form, it is that one may never find the `genuine' version of any traditional recipe, but it is certainly fun to make the journey. You come out the other end with an enormously improved understanding of a cuisine and the needs of the people who created it. Thorne's essays in this genre in this book start with that rather unfamiliar sauce native to the Piedmont in Italy, bagna cauda.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Budra on January 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my favorite John Thorne collection yet. He strikes just the right notes of crank and passionate investigator. Of cooking and thinking about food. If, as he says, he's out of step with the current food-mania culture, it's in a good way. He has always been an independent thinker. His cooking has always been about manipulating simple ingredients, not buying fancy ones. (Wasn't it Julia Child who sniveled about the difference between cooking and shopping?) Of working with what you have. Of reinterpreting recipes to please yourself. His approach is very cerebral and literary: he includes more reading recommendations at the end of each chapter. And his enthusiasm is contagious--I've gathered a big reading list from just my favorite few chapters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Hamadani on December 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a big John Thorne fan since reading Outlaw Cook, and if you like his prior work, you'll enjoy this one too. It's more interesting food discoveries and observations, with tried and true recipes.
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