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Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany Hardcover – August 21, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By now, readers may have finally gotten around to reading every last drop of trivia in last year's oddball bestseller (here and in the U.K.), Schott's Original Miscellany. Just in time, the London "miscellanist" returns, bestowing upon hungry readers every random thing they've ever wondered about the culinary arts and then some. It's just as addictive and enlightening as the first book, as Schott uses his signature objectivity to relay such obscure facts as "The Romans developed a taste for the edible dormouse (Myoxus glis), which they fattened in special cages (gliraria) before stuffing and roasting." Servants' wages, rates of digestion, blessings for wine and bread, dining times for monks, cognac nomenclature, Laotian cooking measures, ways to ask for the bill in 22 languages, microbial count in raw meat, Latin names for herbs—Schott addresses all these subjects and more, hopping between completely useless (though always fascinating) information and eminently practical tidbits. The "Some slang for drunkenness" entry (which lists, among other terms, "got a crumb in his beard," "wankered" and "sniffed the barmaid's apron") makes the book a wise choice for placement on the coffee table, while the "Measuring spaghetti" diagram suggests it is an indispensable kitchen reference.
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About the Author

Ben Schott is a photographer, designer, and miscellanist. He lives in Highgate, London.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (August 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582344205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582344201
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Eileen on July 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ben Schott's new compendium covers all things epicurean. This smorgasbord of fascinating facts on food and drink contains a feast of useless and useful trivia and many savory tidbits of knowledge. Arranged in no particular order are facts that will interest every food lover. For example, if you thought a gourmet was at the top of the hierarchy of gastronomy and a gourmand at the bottom, think again. In reality, the gastronome is the supreme connoisseur of food and drink and the goinfre, or greedy-guts, is the basest.

If you are a world traveler, you will appreciate the list of world beers, foreign toasts and ways to say grace, international variants for Coca Cola logos and Domino's pizza toppings (in India you might choose lamb and pickled ginger), how to ask for the bill in over twenty different languages, and a list of the 121 countries and territories where McDonald's has a presence. If you enjoy food preparation, you might benefit from recipes for cocktails or roast swan, a handy chart of food storage times for fridge and freezer, and the boiling point of water at various altitudes. If you have an interest in things medical, you will find descriptions of diseases of the digestive system, facts on odd food cravings, and hangover cures. For the lover of eclectic food facts, there is information on how to blow smoke rings, read tea leaves, and recognize poisonous mushrooms. There are charts on the body mass index, vitamins, and pasta shapes. There are lists of notable vegetarians, diner slang, edible flowers, Jelly Belly flavors, and the Scoville scale for chili pepper hotness.

Also included are Jewish blessings for wine and bread, and the rules of Halal, which is the Islamic dietary law.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a delightful little tome, full of useful and interesting facts that will appeal to any foodie. It's not the sort of book that you read cover-to-cover; you pick it up, read a couple of items (and guffaw, Harumph, or get a bright idea depending on what you read), and set it down to the next time. While little of this is stuff you HAVE to know, plenty of it will make you say, Oh, Cool!

I know that it's really tough to pick out a cookbook for a friend who's really into cooking. This is a wonderful (and inexpensive) alternative that's sure to make someone smile.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As in his _Original Miscellany_ (2003), the author has simply collected a large number of factoids, grouped under useful headings, but where the first published collection ranged far and wide, this one is thematic, restricting itself to comestibles and potables -- plus a number of pages on smokables -- which arguably makes it more interesting. There are quite a few items of interest, including a selection of "last meal" requests by those facing execution, a description of ullage levels, the items in Capt. Nemo's larder, a list of artists who have contributed label-art for Mouton Rothschild bottles, the characteristics of a number of popular restaurant curries, political quotations involving food, and the varieties of vegetarianism. And there are numerous sidebar quotes and comments, mostly droll. Some included items are highly idiosyncratic, like the favorite food and drink of the members of the "Bay City Rollers," or even questionable in this collection, like the details of an after-dinner dance card from 1926, as found in a printer's archive. And, as in the first volume, there is a tendency to present as canonical a bit of information that is simply one among many varieties, such as stating that Japan's "most notable" brand of beer is Sapporo (I would have said Asahi -- and the list doesn't even include Mexico), and his list of meanings for Mexican street food (the contents and preparation of chimichangas, enchiladas, tacos, nachos, etc) seems to assume a standardization that really doesn't exist. Also, why include, as "curious names" in a list of Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors, Vanilla Caramel Fudge and Chocolate Fudge Brownie? But any shortcomings are made up for by his inclusion of the complete lyrics of the Chiquita Banana song. This is a good book for a couple of hours in the hammock and would also make a nice gift for foodies.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Silverstone VINE VOICE on May 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany is to books about food as Seinfeld is to television comedies. This is a book filled with random information in a wanton order, yet is strangely compelling and draws you in. Ben Schott has compiled list after list, quote after quote from the truly fascinating (e.g., Political Food Quotations, [Types of] Curry, and George Washington's Rules [on Manners]), to the somewhat useful (e.g., Fridge and Freezer Storage [Times], the Hemilich Manuveur, Wedding Cake Symbolism) to the downright bizarre, (e.g., the Chiquita Banana Song, Slaves at a Roman Feast, and Bezoars). This is not a book that you read from cover to cover, but one that you pick up from time to time and read something edifying, grotesque, or engrossing. Moreover, the tidbits that you pick up from this book can make you the wit of any cocktail or dinner party. As an added bonus, there is a built bookmark.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on July 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having the same flavor as _Schott's Original Miscellany_, _Food and Drink Miscellany_ is a veritable smorgasboard of information and trivia related to edibles. Topics range from the handy and helpful ("Cheers!" in 32 "languages", English to American food terms, Biblical food abominations, how to sharpen a carving knife), to the humourous (94 slang words for drunkeness, Swift's wind and the Comic cookery book) to the truly bizzare (why asparagus makes urine smell, favorite food and drink of the Bay City Rollers).

Great fun to read, it would be a hit with anyone who loves to cook, is a fan of meals or drinks with gusto.
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