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The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food Paperback – August 21, 2012
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“Adam Gopnik brilliantly weaves together the history, philosophy, and culture of food with his deep passion for cooking and the shared pleasures of the table.”
“At once sweeping and intimate. . . . Gopnik’s story is more ambitious than a history of restaurants—it’s about how we taste, dream, and argue about food. . . . The Table Comes First indulges gourmands everywhere. And it’s a refreshing defense of the nation responsible in so many ways for the way we eat now. In Gopnik’s distinctive style, it is encyclopedic yet personal and funny, and it drives at deeper truths.”
—The New York Times
“Exuberant. . . . What flows through [The Table Comes First] is a deep fascination with gastronomy as a life force and with the way it’s awakened and flourished over the last couple of centuries. . . . Gopnik acts as reporter, historian, participant and philosopher as he leads us on a kind of walking tour of the food world.”
“Unapologetically intelligent yet charmingly witty . . . [here is] history, nutrition, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology all rolled up into one delectable streusel of insight and illumination.”
“Gopnik is the nearest thing there is—in the English-speaking world, at any rate—to a philosopher of food. . . . These essays blend enormous erudition with great elegance of expression, and pack intellectual firepower too.”
“I need to read anything that Adam Gopnik writes, and this book on food, eating and—it follows—life is a particular feast. His acuity, grace, sensitive intelligence (in short, his brilliance) are, as ever, dazzlingly displayed and yet with the lightest of touches.”
“Gopnik would surely be the world’s greatest dinner guest; he can make any subject fascinating, and always backs up his curiosity with unhurried research and an acute eye for the telling detail.”
“Compelling. . . . Gopnik gets elbow deep in heady theory, culinary history, and his own passions. . . . He is a champion at making connections, wild and free-ranging. Among the allusions are revelations.”
—The Boston Globe
“The perfect book for any intellectual foodie, a delicious book packed with so much to sink your teeth into.”
“Entertaining. . . . Gopnik’s long experience with France and fine dining yields some fine observations. . . . [Reading The Table Comes First,] you feel as if you’re sitting across the table from an amusing friend recounting his adventures.”
—Minnesota Star Tribune
“Gopnik’s discussions on the changing nature of tastes and how it defines what we believe to be ‘good’ and ‘right’ in food are a timely study on the divergent yet complementary trends in modern cooking.”
“Gopnik’s writing about food is highly intellectual and profoundly witty, while also being warm and personal and rooted in common sense. He thinks hard about the routines of the table, and makes you think too.”
—John Lanchester, author of The Debt to Pleasure
“Those who share Gopnik’s twin affections for food and reading will find plenty to savor in The Table Comes First. . . . He’s an essayist in the grand tradition, throwing out pithy sentences that offer the reader plenty to argue about, and then blithely contradicting himself on the next page. It’s easy to imagine how pleasant a table companion he must be.”
—The Columbus Dispatch
Top Customer Reviews
If your looking to buy an Adam Gopnik book, you can by any of the others and have a winner. If you want a book on gastronomy, French Cooking, or food history, there is a list a mile long that will serve you better.
Nevertheless I do feel there are some weaknesses in this book that are not characteristic of Gopnik's best writing. His meditations on the art of fine cooking and dining are indeed enticing, but they do tend to wax overlong at times and indeed become somewhat repetitious. I enjoyed much of his history of the development of the modern restaurant during the French Revolution, but I was disappointed that he didn't carry that history on with as much fine detail. And unfortunately "Family" and "France" take something of a back seat to "the meaning of Food" as far as emphasis and development go.
I did enjoy The Table Comes First very much, especially its reiteration of something that I had forgotten: that so much of what we now consider fine cuisine has its origins in the simplest of peasant cooking. This is a book to be read and savored, and if not kept on a shelf with your cookbooks, at least kept comfortably close by.
THE TABLE is meant to be the insightful exploration of the meaning of gathering for a meal at home or in a restaurant, as the jacket blurb promises. It is in reality a report on trends: localism, slow food, quantitative wine reviews and the so-called crisis in French cooking, with some observations about family and France along the way. Info that is timely, not timeless.
PARIS/MOON recreates the experience of living among the French. Gopnik's combination of close observation and historic review reveals what feels like the truth about French civilization-- a key to understanding the nation and people. And he does so with elan and many a bon mot.
In this work only his demi chapter on the origin of the cookbook recaptures the tone of delightful discovery, dry wit and ironic bewilderment I so much enjoy and admire in his earlier writing.
Gopnik devotes a chapter to `taste,' a topic that has entire books devoted to it. The question of Taste and her sisters Manners and Morals involves anthropology, sociology, history and religion. To squeeze it into just a chapter, the author covers huge swaths of intellectual territory at a brisk clip. His offering is (to use culinary metaphors) half baked, dense and hard to digest. After this didactic, half-convincing introduction of the main topic, the rest of the book feels flimsy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of Adam Gopnik's best. Both instructive and enjoyable.Published 2 months ago by Diane D. Reeves
Great history on the origins of restaurants, dining and food.If you are a foodie or into the PBS show The Mind of a Chef, you will love this bookPublished 3 months ago by Char
Somehow family and France as related to the meaning of food don't always get the attention promised them, but it's a dang good read for anyone interested in any of the three... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Nicholas
Adam Gopnik is one of my favorite writers from the New Yorker Magazine. As a woman of French inheritance I totally agree that the table comes first. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jackie LePut
A bit over-intellectualized, but like all Adam Gopnik's writing, a good read. I recommend it.Published 19 months ago by L. K. Julow