- File Size: 756 KB
- Print Length: 528 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Vintage Books Ed edition (June 8, 2011)
- Publication Date: June 8, 2011
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00513H3MY
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,747 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Man Who Ate Everything: And Other Gastronomic Feats, Disputes, and Pleasurable Pursuits Kindle Edition
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It's clear that Vogue gave Steingarten carte blanche to write on whatever subjects tickled his taste buds, and the result is a frequently hilarious collection of essays that emphasize good eating over an obsession with health. "Salad, the Silent Killer" is a catalog of the toxins lurking in every bowl of raw vegetables, while "Fries" follows a heroic attempt to create the perfect French fry--cooked in horse fat. Whether baking sourdough bread in his Manhattan loft or spraying miso soup across a Kyoto restaurant, Steingarten is an ideal guide to the wilder reaches of gastronomy, a cross between M.F.K. Fisher and H.L. Mencken.
It was to indulge his obsession that in 1989 Steingarten gave up a career as a lawyer and became the food critic at Vogue. The Man Who Ate Everything is a wonderful book, comprising a selection of his brilliant essays from the magazine and elsewhere. -- The New York Times Book Review, Alexander Chancellor
There's little on the subject of food about which he doesn't have strong views, and much of what he was thinking in the last half-dozen years appears in The Man Who Ate Everything.... Steingarten's storytelling, full of exaggeration, is really a culinary psychoanalysis. He goes off on any old tear but, like a good analyst, manages to come back to a point now and again.... Someone has to obsess over these things, and it might as well be someone as intelligent and entertaining as Steingarten. -- The Boston Globe, Sheryl Julian
What a relief that his own dietary resolve is so flimsy--its frequent rueful collapse prompting month-long obsessions with choucroute, barbecue, and Milky Way Swirl Cake; intense periods of detective work into various condiments (with his wife a kind of wry Watson); and delightful exposés like "Salad the Silent Killer." Whatever he's scrutinizing--and no sardine is safe--this is a superb, omnivorous collection from an obvious man of taste. -- Entertainment Weekly
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Mr. Steingarten has an imperturbable gravitas on the panel, and does deliver his opinions ungarnished with self-deprecation, which tends to rub third-tier show biz types the wrong way. Once a former Dancing With the Stars actress rounded on him hotly because he didn't like something she thought was wonderful. He took it with the placid aplomb of an English Mastiff accosted by an anxious Pomerianian. He isn't arrogant. I know that because I read his book. A man is not arrogant who buys ten orders of MacDonald's French fries to try out 33 kinds of ketchup. Then confesses it was too much food and he and his wife got mixed up. And in the end they decided their favorite ketchup might not be the spiciest, but with fries, "a marriage made in heaven." If he acts as if he knows he's right, it's because he knows he's right. How can you not like a know-all who goes to all that trouble to be sure?
The Man Who Ate Everything is a collection of essays packed with his musings, research, recipes, and travels in quest of culinary perfection. His thing is to search out the experts and recipes, then do it at home. But, "Cesare [his Italian informant] never warned me about making pasta near an open drawer." His crater of flour was breached and twenty egg yolks surged across the table "like molten lava rolling over a Hawaiian housing development," into the silverware drawer. Cooking methods are detailed and the physics behind certain techniques are explained. What an interdisciplinist he is, if that's a word. I appreciated the history lessons, as well as the attention to biology (I am a wildlife ecologist). He reasonably concludes that food phobias make no sense, because we are omnivores, and gets rid of most of his through determined exposure to the hated items, because he wants to be a fair and liberal food critic who eats everything.
He can't write without being funny, but beneath it he's always informed. Mr. Steingarten gets it right about plants' making poisons, and why. Boil that spinach and throw away the water, People. He is also right that we have been hoodwinked into believing that all fat is bad. I notice the dairy section of my grocery store is still loaded with awful Fat Free cheese, sour cream, half-and-half (half of what and what?); and the number of crappy Fat Free salad dressings still crowding the shelves is depressing. I was loading my cart with avocados when a woman next to me sighed and said she loves avocados, too, but(as if surprised I was still alive), "All those fatty acids!" The section Why Aren't the French Dropping Like Flies? should be required reading for anyone with a family history of heart disease.
There's a lot of fun here. He goes on a new French diet that was then all the rage (Atkins, South Beach, etc. were later knock-offs), loses 7 lbs after a month of hilarious obsessing about the number on the scales (he purchases three for comparison), but remains lovably unconverted and returns to "pies, pierogi, pistachios, pizza, popcorn potatoes, puff pastry--and that only covers the P's." He enrolls in waiters school and learns how to trick people into spending more than they intended. He travels to Memphis to judge a barbecue competition and is so in love with the winning ribs that he brings some home, and stoically stops himself from devouring them all before his wife comes home from work--his sensuous description of the meat should be rated PG-13, at least. He says I have been making mashed potatoes the wrong way, with Grandmom's hand masher. But in my defense, Mr. Steingarten's way is not to mash them at all, so I think he shouldn't call them mashed. But I can't wait to try his ketchup recipe.
Just a warning: Don't try to read too much in one sitting, no matter how much you're enjoying it. I was skimming around sampling this and that, and had already read a lot--too much, I guess--by the time I got to Primal Bread. I should have been riveted. I actually kept starter once. My donor just waved her hands when I asked where she got it. "Oh, the yeasts just naturally occur, you know. Every kitchen has them." Now I see why it never tasted very good. But my eyes were glazing over and I put the book down. Keep portion size small.
I keep very few books. But this one, I will. I already ordered It Must Have Been Something I Ate, and I wish there were others. The Man Who Ate Everything is funny, intelligent, informed. Just like Mr. Steingarten.
Steingarten's writing is witty, insightful and very entertaining. His food essays are uniquely charming in that he often approaches the subject as at best a novice, and shares his (sometimes disastrous) learning experiences with the reader. His love of food shines through brilliantly in the writing; his descriptions of dishes, ingredients and techniques occasionally caused me to actually salivate, a neat trick in an all-text medium.
The breadth of topics covered is phenomenal. While he is a New York, NY foodie and that obviously colors his writing and tastes somewhat, he's nowhere near as NY/Paris-centric as many food writers from those locales are. He runs the gamut from unusual foreign cuisines to American classics to rural European local specialties. All topics are approached with the same keen palate and enthusiasm.
Steingarten only gets into trouble when he ventures into the more nutritional and social aspects of food consumption. While these are certainly incredibly important topics, his casual investigations into dietary fads, questionable eating habits and urban legends about the health effects of food felt weakly researched and myopic. While they were occasionally entertaining, they just didn't feel essential or worthy of inclusion in an otherwise outstanding collection.
Overall, highly recommended for anyone interested in food!
4 stars for "Part 1- Nothing but the Truth" and "Part 5- Proof of the Pudding," the sections that cover his food cooking and experimentation.
1 star for all the other sections that focus too much on diet and health issues.
0 stars for "Sweet Smell of Sex," the chapter that covers sex, pheromones, and perfume. Steingarten sounds really pervy. Completely unnecessary and has no business being in a food book.
Top international reviews
Du coté du moins, les articles sont un peu datés, remontant presque tous aux années 1990-2000, donc parfois un peu dépassés (particulièrement les adresses de restaurants) très américano-centrés, particulièrementen ce qui concerne des aliments qui ne sont pas disponibles en Europe.
En résumé, une lecture agréable, instructive mais parfois peu accessible sur certains points à qui n'a pas vécu voici 20 ans aux état-unis.