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The Foodie Handbook: The (Almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy Paperback – August 26, 2009

61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Pim Techamuanvivit is the author of the popular food blog Chez Pim. Her stories, recipes, and photographs have been published in Food & Wine, the New York Times, Bon Appétit, and Men's Vogue.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811868532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811868532
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Marcy L. Thompson VINE VOICE on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Pim's blog is pretty fun and interesting. This book is, in parts, pretty fun and interesting. Unfortunately, it comes off as more of a print version of the blog than as a useful or interesting book.

She's an engaging writer and there are some lovely photographs in the book. Some of the recipes are wonderful; all the recipes are well-written and appear to make sense (I didn't try them all).

In the end, however, I think this book isn't really worth it. I just found it too annoying.

One problem with the book is that it's written like a blog, where the various parts have only a thematic connection. Another problem is that there's a bit too much self-aggrandizement for my taste. I don't need to know how amazingly popular the Pad Thai recipe on her blog is, especially when that popularity is illustrated with the number of links to it. Who cares? It's either a good recipe (which it is) or it's not. You got the book contract, honey, stop trying to sell us on your credibility.

Another problem is that there's an awful lot of generalization from her own experience to what other people should do. As others have pointed out, this last problem is well-illustrated with the "50 Things" list. First off, lists of 50 things (or 10 or 23) with only a flimsy connection between them work a lot better on blogs than in books. Worse, after assuring us throughout the previous part of the book that every "foodie" gets there in his or her own way, and admonishing us not to think that we have to do specific things to be a "foodie", she tops the book off with a list of specific ideas. Eat this dish at that restaurant! Return this food item even if in its out-of-seasonality, it sings to you of memories of another season, just because she said it's out of season!
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157 of 169 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
That is the main item missing from author Pim Techamuanvivit's list of "Fifty Things Every Foodie Should Do, or at least try, once is his (her) life." Or maybe Pim didn't bother to mention it since the "wealthy" part is so obviously implied by the rest of her list, such as "Rent a house with a kitchen in Italy or France for a week" or "Eat a whole roasted turbot on the Basque coast in Spain" and "Dine at a Parisian 3-Star Restaurant." Or perhaps you could take Pim's "secret" advice on how to choose wine to go with your meal, by staying in the "middle" range of $75-$100 a bottle? Readers of Upscale - Living the Affluent Lifestyle or Conde Nast Traveler might find themselves nodding along at her sage advice.

I suppose wealth is all relative, but for me a hundred dollar bottle of wine would be more of a once-in-a-lifetime type of splurge for a special event, and not something that I would casually order a couple of (one red, one white at all times!) when I am trying out a new restaurant with friends. Pim's perspective is that of an upper-class San Francisco city-dweller who spends as much time out of the country as in it, and her name-dropping of thousand-dollar-a-meal restaurants (which, Pim assures us, you should visit several times in order to ingratiate yourself as a customer) complete with famous chefs being called by their first name comes off as more of a "Look at me! Isn't my life more fabulous than yours?" -type of thing rather than a cool book on food.

This is too bad, because there is almost a cool book on food buried inside "The Foodie Handbook.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By vli on July 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've never written a truly scathing review (why ruin anyone's day, even if it's just my own?), but I really thought this book was dreadful. I read a lot of food-related books, including cookbooks, and I think it's entirely possible for food bloggers to be worthy of book contracts. But in this case what works just fine for a blog feels unacceptable in a book, not to mention one with such an authoritative tone and ambition.

Pim's blog is by and large a gift to the "foodie" community. How else would we experience the Food and Wine Festival in Aspen, or travel to Tokyo on a food mission? She has a rarefied existence among celebrated chef friends (including her boyfriend David Kinch, who is chef at Manresa), and her sharing her experience with us is wonderful. This is not to say that the blog doesn't frequently have jumbled phrases or hit-you-over-the-head snark, but the content is free. She has no obligation to be on topic or to write cohesive posts. Basically we have no right to hold her to any standard on her personal blog. But then now she's written this book, and almost immediately she says things that rub us readers the wrong way. She starts out by claiming to want to make us fall in love with food AGAIN. Wait... but I've never stopped! It's that (sometimes) subtle presumption that really rubs me the wrong way. There is consistently the impression that she knows better, that she is a food purist (or connoisseur or something) and that we are not, by dint of not having her specific, fabulous experiences. She must teach us how to appreciate food, thus giving rise to the infamous list of musts.

It must have occurred to her or her editor that creating a list of must-experiences would be overbearing and condescending.
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