Book Reviews

The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire
by Gaylord Brewer

The Banquet of Donny & Ari: Scenes from the Opera
by Naomi Guttman

by Michael Pollan

Revenge Baking
by Randon Billings Noble

Biting the Apple
by Jeanie Greensfelder

Best Food Writing 2014
edited by Holly Hughes

Creamy and Crunchy
by Jon Krampner

Biting through the Skin
by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Feeding Orchids to Slugs
by Ann Mah

Mastering the Art of French Eating
by Florencia Clifford

Ivan Ramen
by Ivan Ramen

Third Thursday Potluck Cookbook
by Nancy Vienneau

Mint Tea & Minarets
by Kitty Morse

Prospero’s Kitchen
by Diana Farr Louis and June Marino

Mushroom: A Global History
by Cynthia Bertelsen

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukuoka

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie
by Peggy Wolff

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

by Chloe Yelena Miller

The Hungry Ear
by Kevin Young

Best Food Writing 2012
by Holly Hughes

Dinner: a Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

My Kitchen Wars
by Betty Fussell

American Cookery
by Laura Kalpakian

Apron Anxiety
by Alyssa Shelasky

Cucina Povera
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin

The Social Life of Coffee
by Brian Cowan

The Raw and the Cooked
by Jim Harrison

Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet

Horsemen of the Esophagus
by Jason Fagone

Coffee Philosophy for Everyone
by Scott F. Parker and Michael W. Austin

by Kathryn Borel

Food Rules
by Michael Pollan

On Reading
by Rilke and Ruskin

America the Edible
by Adam Richman

Interview with the author of Party Girls,
Diane Goodman

Death Warmed Over
by Lisa Rogak

How to Cook a Crocodile
by Bonnie Lee Black

Great Food,
All Day Long

by Maya Angelou

Love Bites: Marital Skirmishes in the Kitchen
by Christopher Hirst

Best Food Writing 2011
edited by Holly Hughes

Balzac's Omelette
by Anka Muhlstein

The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker

Muffins and Mayhem
by Suzanne Beecher

As Always, Julia:
The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto


by Jason Wilson

The Particular Sadness
of Lemon Cake

by Aimee Bender

The Bluberry Years
by Jim Minick

Livingston and the Tomato
by A. W. Livingston

by Barry Estabrook

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey
by Robert V. Camuto

Best Food Writing 2010 edited
by Holly Hughes

by Lizzie Collingham

Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg

The Physiology
of Taste

by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Far Flung
and Well Fed

by R. W. Apple, Jr.

The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky

The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball

by Michael Ruhlman

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
by Jessica Theroux

Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton

by Steve Almond

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
by Alice B. Toklas

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

Appetite City
by William Grimes

Twain's Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman

Born Round
by Frank Bruni

by Kate Moses

Full English by
Tom Parker Bowles

Following Fish by
Samanth Subramanian

Eating Animals by
Jonathan Safran Foer

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese
by Eric LeMay

For You, Mom. Finally
by Ruth Reichl

Farm City
by Novella Carpenter

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

I ♥ Macarons
by Hisako Ogita

The Hamburger
by Josh Ozersky

Best Food Writing 2009 edited
by Holly Hughes

by Archestratos

Eat, Memory edited by Amanda Hesser

Eat My Globe
by Simon Majumdar

by Jason Epstein

What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison

The Sweet Life
in Paris

by David Lebovitz

Modern Spice
by Monica Bhide


REVIEW by Jason Bell

Best Food Writing 2010
Edited by Holly Hughes
Da Capo Lifelong Books, October 2010
Paperback: 368 pages, ISBN: 978-0738213811

Reading an anthology is like visiting a buffet—the kind with surimi sushi, fried chicken, chow mein, and more desserts than a self-respecting Midwesterner could possibly finish. A few dishes draw the eye, but the temptation is strong to devour more in a single sitting than stomach-capacity allows. Best Food Writing 2010 attempts to distill an ever-expanding body of literature—spanning newspapers, magazines, blogs, and Internet forums—into a manageable meal. With such schizophrenic variety on the table, however, it’s hard to put your fork down.

In her introduction, Holly Hughes writes that “food writing has moved out of its ‘ghetto’” and that “provocative food journalism has never been more widely read.” This anthology captures a particular moment in America’s food history: an instant when the sheer volume and diversity of information about food has eclipsed the individual’s capacity to sample it first hand. The best essays in Best Food Writing 2010 preserve America’s endangered foods for vicarious enjoyment.

Take Todd Kliman’s essay “The Perfect Chef,” an epic for an elusive master of strip mall Chinese cuisine. Chasing his favorite Chinese chef from Fairfax to Knoxville, Kliman tries to relive grilled fish with cold rice gluten and scallion bubble pancake. Yet, the connection Kliman builds with Chef Peter Chang transcends the past and infects the present. Kliman follows him to Charlottesville “because his food was a part of my life. His tastes had become my tastes.” It is not enough for Kilman merely to remember; he needs this food to live.

You might also sample Jeff Koehler’s “Sardines!” As Koehler grows up, the pilchard transforms from canned delicacy to a dish plucked “from a hot grill, fingers blackened and greasy, surrounded by a growing pile of sucked-clean spines.” Or try “Rather Special and Strangely Popular: A Milk Toast Exemplary” as John Thorne recreates “Elspeth’s Milk Toast” and its many 19th century variants: “we each have to find our own way to milk toast, and so no two recipes for it will ever be exactly the same.” The past enters the present and alters our tastes. I’d end with Roy Ahn’s “Home Run: My Journey Back to Korean.” Instead of traveling backwards, Ahn actually moves forward, relearning Korean cooking so he can teach it to his son. Memory and history become powerful when animated in the present.

At the hazy edge of my own memory, I recall making gallons of strawberry jam. My family had been strawberry picking and, faced with too much fruit and too little pie crust, we pulled out the mason jars. As fall gave way to winter, we spread that jam on toast and spooned it over Breyers vanilla ice cream. Preserves are meant for eating, not storage in archives. Best Food Writing 2010 lets us devour the writing of a moment on some future winter’s day.

June 29, 2011