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 Eric LeMay

Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits
by Jason Wilson
Ten Speed Press, September 2010
Hardcover: 224 pages, ISBN: 1580082882

As a teenager, I swam competitively. Mostly, this meant spending long, chlorinated hours in a cold pool, but occasionally my team got to compete in exotic locales like central Florida. These trips inspired endless scheming: How could we smuggle alcohol with us, so that our nights in the Econo Lodge would transform into the beachside debauchery we’d witnessed in spring-break movies? We knew our parents and coaches would inspect our luggage, purportedly to make sure we’d packed enough sun screen and socks, but really to prevent us from having the underage, unmonitored, drunken fun we felt we deserved.

These Econo Lodge nights, as you’ve certainly guessed and perhaps experienced, ended in the toilet’s orbit. This happened not only because of our over-consumption, but also our smuggling method: shampoo bottles. Suffice it to say, no amount of rinsing, scrubbing, re-rinsing, scouring, re-scrubbing, and pouring boiling water in and out of a shampoo bottle on a Tuesday night while your parents are sleeping lightly upstairs will prevent that bottle from infusing the vodka poured into it with the taste of shampoo. It was vile. And yet we drank it, in shots, straight from the cap.

I have always seen my teenage folly as a testament to America’s romance with alcohol: the way we imbue it with exoticism, glamour, taboo, and sex. Who, after all, is more susceptible to romance than Ohio teenagers? Only after reading Jason Wilson’s Boozehound did I realize that our shampoo-infused Smirnoff was on the cutting edge of American spirits. "I feel the need to say a few words about the explosion of flavored vodkas," writes Wilson in his chapter on "Flavor and Its Discontents." Wilson ultimately says two words ("totally ridiculous"), then explains why:

I mean, I can understand the impulse behind, say, a basic citrus vodka, and maybe even a vanilla. But is there any earthly justification for the existence of a lychee-flavored vodka? Or coconut vodka? Cherry and black cherry vodka? Huckleberry vodka? Kaffir lime vodka? Blood orange vodka? Pink lemonade vodka? Organic cucumber vodka? Sweet tea vodka? Cola vodka? Root beer vodka? Sake-infused vodka? Protein powder-infused vodka? Dutch caramel vodka? Espresso vodka? Double espresso vodka? Bubble gum vodka? Yes, every one of these vodkas has sat on a liquor store shelf, and this list represents only the tip of the iceberg. In 2003, there were about two hundred flavored vodkas on the market. Today there are more than five hundred.
Wilson hopes to guide us from these spirits hatched in a "Jelly Belly store" toward those with true flavor, "actual tastes that grow out of a place, a tradition, an artisan method."

And he succeeds. A literary mixologist, Wilson creates a cool blend of travelogue, personal essay, social history, and how-to, ending each chapter with drink recipes that send me out to buy the appropriate barware. One measure of Wilson’s success is how much the guy has cost me. I still live in Ohio, which means I have to ship in the booze he describes—it’s so enticing, I can’t not try it: Dutch genever, for example, the original Renaissance gin that sprung from juniper; or Barolo Chinato, a quinine-infused wine that pairs so well with dark chocolate you’d think a miniature Cupid had collapsed on your tongue.

A few sips in, I find myself forgiving Wilson, but if the boozehound ever follows the trail to Ohio, I’ll have a new vodka for him to try.

September 14, 2011