From Publishers Weekly
Kamp, a writer and editor for Vanity Fair
, details the development of fine dining in the U.S. and proves healthy, even exotic food movements are having an effect on our diet. He highlights the great divide between a population that relies on McDonald's and those who savor gourmet cooking. Historically, the rich always had high-end restaurants; the rest contented themselves with recipes in the ladies' sections of newspapers and magazines. But thanks to "the Big Three"—James Beard, Julia Child and Craig Claiborne—America had an eating revolution. Kamp supplies an engaging account of their careers; Claiborne has a particularly spicy life story. While The Joy of Cooking
focused on helping housewives keep "one eye on the family purse and the other on the bathroom scale," says Kamp, quoting Irma Rombauer, Beard saw cooking as a passion. During the 1960s, restaurant reviews became respectable journalism and dining out a status symbol. As rebellion turned to affluence, "eating, cooking and food-shopping were symbols for those who considered themselves upwardly mobile." This cultural history makes for an engrossing read, documenting the dramas and rivalries of the food industry. (Sept.)
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It seemed in the late 1950s that Americans were hopelessly wed to time-saving, nutritionally suspect food whose chief virtue was its ability to provide instant gratification of the most untutored senses. Then along came, in close succession, an imperious French chef, a couple of gay men, and a remarkably tall, surprisingly telegenic woman. They formed a vanguard for battalions of cookbook writers, restaurant owners, chefs, food critics, grocers, and television producers and personalities who brought the principles of fine food to increasingly sophisticated masses with plenty of discretionary income to indulge themselves. With pronounced and definite opinion, Kamp retells the culinary saga of these revolutionary times. His accounts of these pioneers of taste explain the contributions of each, and he regales the reader with gossipy anecdotes that belie the public faces with which these "authorities" sometimes masked their appetites for sex, drugs, celebrity, and money. Kamp's recounting of the rise of California cuisine--epitomized by Alice Waters and her Berkeley circle--aptly summarizes the era's glories and excesses. Mark KnoblauchCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved