From Publishers Weekly
Sensual, comforting and "tangled into every human emotion," food has long evoked love in all its forms, and Crumpacker (The Old-Time Brand-Name Cookbook
) explores how our two most raging appetites play upon each other to soothe, satisfy and seduce. Dishing out gobbets of gastronomic history candied with sweet-tart musings, Crumpacker slices into provisions from apples to wedding cake as symbols beyond mere sustenance. In her gloss, both what and how we eat are expressions of the psyche, unremitting quests to fulfill our most primal urges. She takes particular pleasure in teasing out food's more piquant associations (such as "dripping, fleshy mouthfuls" of fruit). Parsing the subtexts of American chow, she considers fast food (wolfed down in bites, it reflects our aggressive, anxious national temperament), ethnic food (oozing with "a rich, fatty kind of love") and salad bars (delighting with array and abundance), and also makes a case for the restorative intimacy of cooking. The obligatory list of aphrodisiacs appears, though Crumpacker debunks their mystique, sticking to her thesis that "we are all beautiful when we are well loved and... well fed." Though seasoned haphazardly with purple prose, Crumpacker's clever insights and lyrical aphorisms blend into an indulgent read. (Feb. 7)
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Eating and sex have always coexisted, and Crumpacker makes perfectly plain the connections between consumption and procreative activity. By their shapes, smells, and cultural associations, certain foods, such as mushrooms, reflect sexual imagery. In pure Freudian terms, obsessions with foods and obsessions with sex begin in infancy and childhood and come to full flower in adult hungers. Comfort foods and hunger for human intimacy work together to bring pleasure. Thus, macaroni and cheese offers for many people a surrogate mating opportunity. Eating in bed carries many different implications. Even restaurant design has sexual aspects, such as the choice of colors used in the decor and the layout of the seating, be it close-spaced or distant. Crumpacker takes the food-sex relationship about as far as it can go in her discussion of cannibalism as the most intimate form of eating, and she remarks on its relationship to the Christian sacrament. In a curious aside, Crumpacker relates the role of vegetarianism in the life of Adolf Hitler. Mark KnoblauchCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved