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American Food Writing: an Anthology: With Classic Recipes Hardcover – April 19, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
But when an author gets to the soul of the food being written about, well, something very special happens for the reader. Food writing can open up new vistas for the adventurous food lover. We can learn about foods and dishes we had never expected or anticipated. We can get fresh takes on dishes we thought we knew. It can take us back in time and show us the roots of where we came from. Even the way they wrote their recipes can be instructive. We notice what they assumed the person using the recipe would assume as understood, the kinds of ingredients and equipment they assumed would be on hand, and what was new and different that had to be carefully spelled out.
Food writing also makes for wonderful anthropology. What people ate when and where provides wonderful insights into who the people were, what they valued, what was available to them, their technology, those with whom they traded, and their connections to those who came later (the way the dishes and foods evolved and changed over time). Too often we make the lazy assumption that the past was much like the present, but not as modern. In fact, it is often very different.Read more ›
After slogging throught the first 300 pages (the book is chronologically arranged), I finally came to the modern era of food writing. Many of my favorites were here: Nora Ephron, Julia Child, Calvin Trillin, David Sedaris. From here on in, the selections are more interesting, if uneven. I guess it's a matter of taste, but of all the extreme adventures Ruth Reichl wrote of in her marvelous Garlic & Sapphires, the sushi restaurant chapter didn't strike me as the one to pick. The consecutive pieces on Craig Claibornes' $4,000 meal in Paris followed by Russell Baker's parody of it are classic and so is David Sedaris's menu essay. But I wonder if Michael Pollan's food writing will hold up over time. I must admit I couldn't make my way through much of his book, Omnivore's Dilemma, from which a chapter is excerpted for this collection. It's just so darned earnest.
But my main gripe about American Food Writing is the writing that wasn't there. In a book of American Food Writing that makes room for writers remembering food from the old country, why is there nothing at all from the most American food writers of all, Jane and Michael Stern? Is there any food more American than diner food? And how about those other very American food pastimes, the hot dog eating contest (or pie eating contest or twinkie eating contest, etc.) and the chili cookoff? Amy Sutherland has an excellent book on cookoffs that might have provided an entertaining chapter. What about food blogs - Julie Powell, for instance?
There have been some great books of food writing recently like Julia Child's My Life in France, Jane and Michael Stern's Two for the Road, and David Kamp's The United States of Arugula. And the annual Best Food Writing edited by Holly Hughes hasn't let me down yet.
There are pieces here by everyone from Thomas Jefferson, to Alice B. Toklas, to Ray Kroc. That's an incredible diversity of viewpoints. Walt Whitman's description of bringing exotic and rare iced cream to wounded civil war veterans contrasts strangely, but tantalizingly, with Eric Schlosser's exploration of exactly how the chemical factories in northern New Jersey create the artificial and "natural" flavors that permeate all of our processed food. From dozens of almost completely unrelated pieces, a picture of American food pointillistically emerges.
I went to this book's release party back in 2007 at the Redcat Theater in Los Angeles. (No conflict of interest in this review; the event was open to the public.) Some chefs from around the city had prepared a variety of foods from the recipes in the book, and they were all superb. Particularly fantastic were Helen Evans Brown's 1952 gazpacho (which I have since made at home to my wife's delight), and Union Square Cafe's 1994 yellowfin tuna burgers.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love to read and I love to cook, and I love this book. Even if I didn't cook, I would still love the book. Read morePublished 12 months ago by nclovely1
I was a little disappointed - interesting info but not enough old recipes. I am still reading this book and will finish it, but not rushing to do so.Published on August 30, 2013 by Amazon Customer
A collection of American food writing spanning 250 years by writers with distinctive voices and opinions. Read morePublished on August 3, 2013 by Jeanne McCombs
Very awesome. Writing from early times to current writers. This book has it all, with many essays including recipes. Read morePublished on July 8, 2013 by John S.
Judging from the thickness of the book, I thought reading this book is going to be horrible (hence the book is a requirement for my research writing class). Read morePublished on April 20, 2013 by N. Morden
I was forced to read this book for an honors class, and lets just say I boycotted reading it after 90 pages. Read morePublished on September 25, 2010 by Molly_smiles
This was such a surprise. I am a long time subscriber to the Library of America, and occasionally receive an anthology... Read morePublished on April 13, 2009 by Patricia A. Powell
I was very excited about this book, intending to curl up with it and enjoy reading it. But this book is so clumsily printed, that was impossible. Read morePublished on March 8, 2008 by Mom of Sons
I received my copy of this book from Ms O'Neill after accompanying her and her associate, Nora Sherman, on a visit to Northern Minnesota, where they gathered recipes and stories... Read morePublished on December 3, 2007 by S. Baker