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The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner Hardcover – June 24, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805086692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805086690
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,330,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Rayner lives out every foodie’s fantasy: to dine in the world’s best restaurants, wolfing down master chefs’ most prized products, quaffing the finest vintages, ordering the rarest and most expensive dishes menus can offer, luxuriating in sumptuous surroundings as staff hover solicitously. A London restaurant critic, Rayner documents the capital’s ascent from the culinary embarrassment of fish-and-chips to enthronement as one of the world’s gastronomic destinations. He jets to arid Las Vegas, where he finds just how eagerly chefs violate the currently sacred mantra of locally produced ingredients for the golden opportunity to grab tourist dollars. He finds similar intersections of greed and gluttony in Dubai and Moscow, where expense tends to measure quality. He caps his worldwide quest with a week of unabashed overeating in Paris, visiting both new and classic celebrated Parisian restaurants till even his estimable constitution buckles under the caloric load. --Mark Knoblauch

Review

“Jay’s massive appetite for luxury items and his spectacular understanding of food, chefs, and dining combine to make this a hilarious and insightful journey into the world of restaurant meals. I may have been the bad seed at the root of this journey, but I take no credit whatsoever for his final realizations. I do wish he had invited me along though, for the great meals, for some sense of chef perspective, and to savor a couple of bottles of vintage Krug.”—Mario Batali


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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Genene Murphy on July 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While reading this book, avoid Expedia and Orbitz or any deep-seated desires to taste Toyko or tour New York City. Stay far, far away from wine auctions and think twice about booking reservations at restaurants that issue fraud alerts. Because after reading Rayner's adventures and quest for the perfect meal, you'll want to spend a lot of money for your next travel/foodie fix.

With each chapter--and arrival in another city--you may crave exotic food and culinary adventure and more of Rayner's writing. He gives words life. His arrogant, yet charming tone reminds of that guy at that bar that you'd like to call your friend or uncle. I distinctly remember reading in bed and yet also sitting next to Rayner, getting sick in a cab or throwing envious glances to investment bankers wasting a $5000 bottle of wine just because they could. You may taste the sea. Or smell grapes. You may also feel your heart race when he describes what happens in France. And you'll definately experience Dubai in ways that this month's travel magazine can't describe. (His description called to mind the book, A Fine Balance.)

Soon after reading and loaning this book, I craved really good sushi. I checked the balance on our Visa, closed my eyes ... and Rayner was right. I could taste the sea. Read this now if you need a vacation or a gluttonous night out in town. The experience is free.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Usowski on August 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was so pysched when I read the 'Warning' (urging the reader to get a snack beforehand or suffer through hunger pains)that I actually grabbed a banana and settled into my couch for a long read. I happily read the first chapter about having a 'proper dinner' and wondered where in Upstate NY I could actually get a decent app of escargot. Still intrigued I read on. Las Vegas. Really? I know, a blossoming culinary mecca. The only things blossoming there are the busoms of the waitresses. I read on and slowly lost patience. Blah, blah truffle, blah, caviar, blah, freebies, blah, name dropping. I wanted to get into it, but just couldn't. I would recommend 'Garlic and Sapphires' by Ruth Reichl instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Thompson on August 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Jay Rayner, I have to say, strikes one as a very unlikely sort of food critic. In the photograph on the cover of my copy of his book, he has a distinctly 'mad-monk' sort of appearance that is almost a bit scary. One might, on seeing him in a restaurant, for example, take him for a professional wrestler on a night off, rather than the respected food writer he actually is.

Normally, I would never make references to an authors physical appearance in a literary review but I do so here because I think that the disparity in Mr Rayner's outward appearance and his actual work is pleasantly reflected in the style his writing. All too often, food writers take themselves too seriously and the result is an unfortunate pretentiousness. Rayner, on the other hand is very down-to-earth, with a salty irreverence that makes this particular book so eminently readable. He makes one laugh at the same time he makes one think.

This book is a somewhat philosophical look at what constitutes good food but Mr Rayner approaches the philosophy without preaching or pontificating. Rather, he seems to be mulling his ideas over as he shares them and the result is very engaging. In particular, he several times refers to some varieties of food writing as 'food porn' and I found the notion very interesting and, well .... 'food' for future thought.

The only negative criticism I might make of this book is that it is a bit unstructured, almost to the point of being haphazard in some ways, but I can't say that this detracted from my enjoyment of it as a whole. Mr Rayner's sometimes self-deprecating humor makes the end result a genuinely witty and insightful pleasure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Merican on September 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to say I have enjoyed watching Jay Rayner on TV, so I was excited when this came out on Kindle. It was funny, interesting...everything I enjoy in a book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jay Rayner made us laugh (and still does) with his comment "I was hoping to see my children grow up" on one of the BBC Masterchef Professionals episodes when the chef is late with serving. Jay is one of the critics that (aspiring) chefs get exposed to on BBC Masterchef and I really appreciate his no-nonsense approach to food: the chef should actually want to FEED you, not just grandstand and scream "Look at what I can do" with one ball of disintegrated fish and a foam sauce. Hence, when I read he had written a book, I just had to read it (on my Kindle). He talks about himself, chefs he meets and food he's eating in the search to see whether it really does make such a difference to have Michelin stars or not etc. It's FUNNY and entertaining. A good read if you're into food, would like to have a peek in the topnotch restaurants of the world and the strange scene the restaurateurs' business is, actually.
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Format: Paperback
This has to be one of the best books about pursuing great food I shall ever read. Written by a man who really cares-not just a job but a quest and never ending adventure - but oh, the cost. Yes, good food does cost a lot, so be prepared if you want to duplicate Raynor's choices. First, it seems you need a lovely wife like his to make all the going and spending feasible over time. He is from England and is certainly the first to reiterate the depressing picture of "English cookery" of the past and the hopes of salvation for the national stomachs in the future.
I so enjoyed Jay Rayner's wit. And his indignation at the worst feasting and also his expressions of holy reverence for the best eating (which as he points out are products of the Chef's brain and talent; and has little to do with God, etc.) His family is a fascinating one and he relates stories of his early years that show the parents' indulgence for his native "bent" and unique personality. You may not want to read this volume in public; because there are passages where you will not be able to repress your instinctive orgiastic groans as he describes the best eating experiences -which might prove embarrassing in mixed company; and of course your snarls when he tells in detail how he was gypped - as he says, "robbed", at the hands of some famous names. He names names and every ingredient of every dish. You will work hard to plug in all descriptive references into your own "food tasting memory bank" so you can try to taste everything yourself. It is such fun.
I think it's exciting that he traveled to all venues throughout "the civilized world"; that is with directions to find the best food anywhere there are expense accounts and credit cards and references from the other Chefs, "workers in the fields". This is not about folks at home.
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