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Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin Hardcover – September 23, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: The eccentric and engaging food-lit manifesto, Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, collects the wisdom, rants, and recipes of New York's most legendarily cranky, publicity-hating short-order cook. The foul-mouthed genius of Kenny Shopsin has been captured before, most notably in Calvin Trillin's wonderful New Yorker profile and the documentary I Like Killing Flies, but Eat Me gives a from-the-cook's-mouth take on life behind the counter, with the layout of a quirky, illustrated textbook. Chapter titles like "Selling Water, or the Secret of the Restaurant Business" and "The Story of Shopsin's Turkey, or Why I Hate the Health Department" should give you a taste of what's in store. Formerly located in Greenwich Village, Shopin's now sets up camp at Stall No. 16 at the Essex Street Market, where you'll find dozens of soups, sandwiches, burgers, milk shakes, breakfast plates, and pancakes (from Plain to White Mint Chocolate Chip), along with original comfort-food classics like Blisters on My Sisters (tortillas, cheese, fried eggs, beans, and rice), gracing the crammed 900-item menu. Getting tossed out of Shopsin's (for whatever offense) has taken on badge-of-honor status among diners--the culinary equivalent of being on the business end of a Don Rickles zinger. Reading Eat Me feels like the next best thing. --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Kenny Shopsin hates publicity the way a magnet must hate metal filings. With a documentary, a New Yorker profile and several New York Times articles clinging to him, this supposedly reluctant restaurateur now adds to his own troubles by releasing a totally hilarious and surprisingly touching treatise on cooking, customer loyalty and family bonds. As his brood grew to include five kids, his Manhattan eatery shrunk in size, yet maintained its idiosyncratic 900-item menu (reproduced here in a 12-page spread). Recipes for more than 100 of the offerings are presented, including Mac n Cheese Pancakes and Blisters on My Sisters (sunny-side-up eggs placed atop tortillas and a rice and bean concoction). But the real treat is Shopsin's salty philosophizing. Sure, pancakes are tasty, but he reminds us that, They are flour and milk drowned in butter and some form of sugar. They're crap. And the customer is always wrong until they show me they are worth cultivating as customers. Two such well-cultivated customers were the writer Calvin Trillin and his wife, Alice. They pop up throughout the book, providing not only happy reminiscences, but a roux of poignancy as both Shopsin and Trillin become widowers, bonded together over the love of a decent meal, quickly rendered. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307264939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307264930
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ben Nacorda on September 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the first cook book I've ever read where I sat down and read it cover to cover first. The musings in this book is worth every page and makes for an engaging read. The book arrived at my house on Thursday and I basically spent all weekend trying out a bunch of the recipes. So far: Patsy's Cashew Chicken (a new household favorite but mixed hoisin sauce, water and soy sauce instead though), Slutty Pancakes, Glazed Pancakes, Tahini Dressing, Coconut rice (never thought leftover rice can taste so good), Crepes (amazing approach and he's right, no one can tell the difference). The recipes are elegantly simple and does not require a culinary degree nor a translator when you go shopping for the ingredients. In fact, most of the stuff is probably already in your pantry. Kenny Shopsin has a distinctive point of view and will leave you wanting to visit NYC just so you can eat at his restaurant and hear his philosophy in person. Be careful you don't get thrown out though...
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Format: Hardcover
Eat Me and Kenny Shopsin's take on the world are definitely not for everyone, just as his restaurant was not for everyone. One reader I spoke with found Kenny's attitude closed-minded and offensive; I had an easier time being amused at the raucous tales and strong personality, but I could see the person's point. It'll definitely be a reader-dependent thing.

Kenny tells tales of everything from his kids' childhoods to famous customers to the sexual nature of some foods. His stories of the friendships he's made and the business agreements he's come to had me laughing out loud.

The recipes are equally fantastic, and even that reader I know who didn't like Kenny's attitude loved the food. Kenny liked to keep as many dishes on the menu as possible, while keeping his kitchen as simple as possible and making every dish when it was ordered--rather than making a handful of things ahead and keeping them under heat lamps. He achieved this by constructing many variations upon themes from simple components. When fresh ingredients achieve the best results, he uses them. When a purchased mix or product will do just as well, he isn't shy to say so.

I have to agree that he's found an amazing balance between speed, ease, and taste. I frankly wasn't sure about an egg recipe called the Fellini, made with tomato, garlic bread, and ricotta, but it blew me away when we made it. Alchemy! His suggestions for making stock seemed odd (a blend of traditional stock-making methods and including some of a commercial concentrate), yet it really does produce an end result that's better than either of those methods alone. His cream of tomato soup, made with marinara sauce as a base(!) is to die for, and easy enough to knock out on a busy work night!
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Format: Hardcover
The title says it all.

Kenny Shopsin is profane, hard on customers, full of big ideas that are as important to him as anything he'll put on your plate.

If your idea of a restaurant is a place where "the customer is always right," do yourself a favor and stop reading right here.

But if you like a combative good time, an original mind and some amazingly simple recipes for home-cooked classics, you might inch a bit closer to the screen and pay close attention to this unusual cookbook.

First, the facts: Shopsin's is a New York institution. Kenny Shopsin and his late wife Eve started it as a Greenwich Village market before turning it --- without much in the way of redecoration --- into a 40-seat restaurant. It's now moved to the Essex Street Market, in a more pristine space with just 20 seats, more constrained hours and a menu trimmed from its former 900 items.

Now for some consumer warnings...

Kenny Shopsin on Customer Relations
Sometimes my mind works a bit too fast, and I come to the conclusion of a relationship with customers faster than they get there. The abruptness of my understanding the essence of what's happening is really upsetting to them and makes them vindictive and angry.

Kennedy Shopsin on Publicity
[to a New York magazine photographer who asked to take his picture] Get [REDACTED] out of here! What? [REDACTED] [Sound effect: Shopsin slamming the door.]

Kenny Shopsin on his huge menu, revised daily
I spent almost $3,000 on toner in the last three months.

Kenny Shopsin on what makes his restaurant special
The brilliance of my restaurant is my ability to control my clientele.
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Format: Hardcover
If you haven't eaten at Shopsin's, at least watch the documentary "I Like Killing Flies" before you buy this book. This helps you understand Kenny Shopsin. He's an eccentric, and probably a lunatic. But he's amusing and biting. He's the type of guy you want to like for being so out there, but who will hate you for liking him. The philosophy of Kenny Shopsin is pretty straightforward and doesn't really have any frills. The food is much the same.

The recipes in this book are not the kind that foodies or serious cooks will really want to replicate. These are college student or lazy cook recipes. They are simple and often too much so. This is the book for people who don't want fancy food, but don't want to eat frozen pizzas. So you can cook real food, but it'll be pretty basic. Might be worth buying solely for the eccentricity of it and to see the mind-boggling menu.
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