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Steal the Menu: A Memoir of Forty Years in Food Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 14, 2013
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—The New York Times Book Review
“This entertaining memoir…doubles as a breezy, ranging history of American food, and the sociopolitical events that shaped it.”
—The New York Observer
“As gastronomic guides go, you can’t do much better than former New York Times and Wall Street Journal restaurant critic Raymond Sokolov, whose jaunty prose in Steal the Menu gets you a tableside seat everywhere from Tennessee barbeque pits to French haute cuisine temples.”
“A knowledgeable look at the transformation of fine dining over the past half-century, viewed through the prism of the author’s personal history…foodies will find this book refreshingly different.”
“Reading Raymond Sokolov’s wonderful Steal the Menu is like having dinner with one’s wittiest, most erudite and charming friend, someone who knows everything worth knowing about food, its history and culture, about chefs and restaurants, about how our cuisine and our kitchens have changed over forty years—and about how to tell an authentic key lime pie from an imitation. Bon appétit!”
“Steal the Menu is a lively insider’s account of goings-on in the American food scene over the last forty years. And who better to tell this story than Raymond Sokolov, one of America’s best food writers? With his keen ear for language, Sokolov is by turns authoritative and funny, deeply informed and irreverent. This book offers up a feast for the senses as well as the mind!”
—Darra Goldstein, founding editor, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture
“Ray Sokolov dines out delightfully on a life of dining out in the Western world’s most ambitious restaurants. His wit seasons his learning, which is considerable on a vast array of subjects, from classical French cuisine, to where to find the best hamburger in the Midwest, to barbecue in Texas. The result is a zesty stew, a chronicle of movements in cuisine across the decades and oceans. As an entertainment, Steal the Menu rates a full complement of stars.”
—Joseph Lelyveld, author of Great Soul
“Steal the Menu chronicles Sokolov’s forty years as an observer of the American and international food scene with delicious wit and erudition. Peppered with reflections on culinary history and tales of extraordinary journalistic adventures, Steal the Menu is a thought-provoking and delightful read.”
—Fuchsia Dunlop, author of Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking
“I read Steal the Menu straight through with pleasure. The writing is stylish, sometimes provocative, always informative, with a balanced perspective on the tumultuous changes at the table we’ve all lived through.”
—Dr. Andrew Weil, coauthor of The Healthy Kitchen
“Raymond Sokolov is very good company on the page. Steal the Menu is proof of that. His writing is witty and engaging, but what sets this book apart is its appreciativeness: food is food for thought, something to be curious about, as well as a huge pleasure.”
—Naomi Duguid, author of Burma: Rivers of Flavor
“This is an indispensable book for anyone and everyone who takes cooking seriously.”
—Jason Epstein, author of Eating
“[Sokolov] is a good traveling companion. Reading his writing is like being driven in an old, comfortable roadster, top down, evening falling, balmy…with the promise—because Sokolov always does his homework—of something really good to eat just down the road.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
Top Customer Reviews
Instead I'd recommend you read the newly published Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin- it's accessible,lively and heart warming- and there's more than food in her bid to find wholeness by cooking her way around the world's cuisine.
Sokolov has made a prosperous career of traveling extensively at other people's expense in order to write about food. It has cost the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other publications a fortune so that the rest of us can read about food even if, like me, you seldom dine in a four star restaurant.
Sokolov’s meandering career owes equal parts to luck and personal connections, which makes for a fascinating story in how a graduate student in the Classics became one of of the most prominent food writers in the US. Sokolov even returns to his unfinished dissertation in his 60s to finally earn his PhD. During his multifaceted career are such plum jobs as his several year stint has food editor at the New York Times and later Leisure and Arts editor at the Wall Street Journal. Both were high expense account gigs that let him travel the country and the world eating at the newest and the best.
Besides giving us insight into Sokolov the man, he also discusses several of the mega trends in the food world. Midway through the book, Sokolov explains what "nouvelle cuisine" really is. This much maligned food development is put in the context of culinary history. Rather than sparse servings with stylized arrangements, we see it as a response to both globalization of gourmet influences and plates for individual diners rather than elaborate platters carried table side. Sokolov gives an appreciation for the real movement behind the media hype. Likewise, at the end of the book, Sokolov addresses modernist cuisine. Once again, he is able to tease away the flash and hype from the genuine staying power in the culinary innovations. For example, the ubiquity of sous vide cookers underscores their utility.
If I had one complaint, it is that the personal part of the memoir fades in the second half of the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was a little disappointed in the way the recipies were presented. . Didn't expect this deliverance at all.
A personal tale of what it is like to work in or run a restaurant. Gives an interesting insight into a lifestyle that is unique and creative. Read morePublished on March 4, 2014 by B. Neswald
if I had realized this book would be taking cheap shots at Tricia Nixon and her father, I wouldn't have bought it.'
Can 't liberals ever let up?
Doctor Sokolov has a wonderful command of English, and he uses it to whet my appetitie for dining. Read it!Published on August 30, 2013 by H. Hoffman
Raymond Sokolov appears to be a talented writer with a keen palate. I just wish he'd actually taken off his mask when writing this memoir and written something authentic from the... Read morePublished on August 30, 2013 by mirabile
I love food literature, but this one is a bit of a snooze. Still haven't finished it - read four books in between.Published on July 14, 2013 by Jac Willis