- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 26, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811868532
- ISBN-13: 978-0811868532
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Foodie Handbook: The (Almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy Paperback – August 26, 2009
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About the Author
Pim Techamuanvivit is the author of the popular food blog Chez Pim. Her stories, recipes, and photographs have been published in Food & Wine, the New York Times, Bon Appétit, and Men's Vogue.
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Well, not exactly. Pim assumes the reader is either intimidated by food or ignorant of good food so corrective measures must be taken. But many of her initial recommendations are too general or self-evident to turn someone's habits around (e.g. tell the sommelier what kind of wine you like; look for seasonal dishes on the menu; read about the restaurant before you go there) and some are just plain silly (overcome your fear of a fancy restaurant by sending back your water and complaining there's too much ice in it; no restaurant with a great view can possibly be any good).
But then the food arrives. Or specifically, a small selection of recipes which are carefully chosen to show off how good food can be with proper preparation. Most feature just a few ingredients, often combined in unorthodox ways. Almost all are easy to prepare and will give a home cook a real sense of accomplishment. I've tried a few of them and they are great. If you want to know why you should pay attention to food, this is the place to start. Skip the rules at the beginning, or go back to them after you have some context.
At its modest price, Pim's recipes easily justify buying this book. Also, it's a beautiful volume physically and it earns an extra star for that. The production quality is high with a diecut cover and lots of dramatic food photos (though perhaps a few too many with Pim in them). But don't leave it looking beautiful on the coffee table because it needs to get dirty and food stained as you prepare these recipes. Start with the roast chicken.
It troubles me that there is such disdain for a word and that it is immediately mocked by those who will set themselves apart by declaring that they are not in any way "foodies" because they are more better than all foodies (or fatties as some things I read liked to call people with an "over-interest" in food and eating) by refusing to take part in the flim-flam that being a foodie is, despite the fact that the mere declaration that you are NOT a foodie, while actually being a foodie means that you are even more pretentious and snobbish than just saying, yeah, whatever, I'm a big fat foodie. Wait I just came up with another term - we can call those anti-foodies "snoodies" (snob+foodie).
Pim Techedintheheadabit (that is her name right?) has written a book called The Foodie Handbook that is based on her supremely popular blog called Chez Pim that I never heard of before and it's supposedly been online like ten freaking years (which means it was a blog before there were even blogs - snoodie anyone?).
Well the truth is Pim's Cup is the girly behind (or in front of, however they manage it) the 2 star Michelin'ed David Kinch (making her Kinch's Kitchen Wench or Kwinch) from the well-reviewed CA restaurant Manresa as well as GQ's cheffie of the year in 2011. They have been together for seven years and there is a large age difference between them as well as height and weight (David being portly and taller and Pim being tiny and smaller).
Does having this critically acclaimed Chef boyfriend of advancing years have anything to do with Pim's sudden book deal, cooking classes (held at the farm where he is involved in biodynamic farming for his restaurant) and coverage from media like The New York Times and every food magazine and blog on Earth? Ya think?
Pim's pedigree seems to be that she was from a wealthy Thai family in Bangkok who sent her to the US for school and she messed around with some internet stuff until she worked out that having a chef boyfriend might be the boost she needed to make this writing/macaron-making/jam and marmalade production thingee take off.
Pim's a big ol' name-dropper she is (calling Anthony Bourdain "Tony" for instance since they are the best of friends obviously) and world-traveler with unlimited funds to dine in the best restaurants in the world and rent homes in Provence and Tuscany and enjoy cooking locally all over the world. All while making marmalade that Nigella Lawson loves while keeping her older fatter boyfriend enthralled with her jam as well.
Her writing is not especially creative or interesting and although she is opinionated she seems to often be talking out of her ass, such as the mini-chapter in the book about sushi where she contradicts herself by saying that sushi chefs only care about taking your money except for a few places on earth that are so exclusive that you will never get in there but she has and it was so worth it and then although she tells you to not pay attention to any sushi etiquette if you dine at these exclusive two or three locations where you will not ever get in but she has because she is far better connected than you, you should pay close attention to a friend who will take you there (like if she was your friend, but she is not because why would Pim be friends with the likes of you and take you to the best sushi place in the world, I mean, come on!) and hope they know the particular etiquette for this rarefied sushi place so you can follow exactly what they do provided they are not a complete idiot and you will be shamed, possibly banned and inevitably looked down upon by Pim herself. Oh and don't eat sushi with avocado you knave!
Pim is thoroughly unlikeable and I haven't even gotten to the part in the book where there are about fifty photos and more than half are black & white photos of Pim. Another reviewer called the book Pim's Pin-ups which would be accurate except that Pim is not the most comely of kitchen wench's and having page after page of Pim really detracted from the food.
Gauging when next there would be a photo of Pim became like a drinking game in the middle of reading the book. I ignored entire top ten lists and other blather simply to see the next artsy photo of Pim reading some word art on a wall at elBulli (the supposed best or top or greatest whatever the hell it is pretentious restaurant in the world), Pim taking a sip of wine, Pim stirring something, Pim walking, Pim smiling, Pim shopping, Pim with a camera, Pim with an ice cream, Pim laughing, Pim shaving her legs (that must have been in there, I know there was a Pim flossing her teeth photo) and now it's time to take a drink! Am I smashed yet? If I'm three sheets to the wind do I need to finish this ridiculous book?
Turns out, no, I do not have to. No one does. The bottom line is Pim likes to talk more about Pim than food, being a foodie or snoodie and frankly she just comes off as rudie. She really has nothing to say except that she is more better than you and I suppose she could do that just as well on her blog while selling out her little marmalade making classes at the Lovesick Farm or whatever venture her boyfriend David Knitwit hooked her up with. Yes for $115 you too can learn to make jam from Pim and be a better person for it. Sorry, more better. Like Pim.
I give it two stars and not one star for the following reasons:
1. The cover is a joke on whoever purchases it, as it will surely give you a paper-cut before you tear it off with impunity.
2. Most of the people who have reviewed the book here on Amazon did not actually purchase it like I did, so I have to save face somehow.
3. I feel bad for the word "foodie" like I feel bad for ugly dogs and Anne Hathaway.
4. I only paid 99 cents for it.
I would absolutely recommend this book for anyone with a modicum of interest in food.