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 Dan Packel

Far Flung and Well Fed: The Food Writing of R. W. Apple, Jr.
by R. W. Apple, Jr.
St. Martin's Griffin, December 2010
Paperback 432 pp. ISBN: 978-0-312-65063-6

Globetrotters and gourmands prone to envy should avoid this extensive collection of articles by the late New York Times reporter R.W. Apple. Known to friends and colleagues as Johnny, Apple had the good fortune to eat his way around the U.S. and the globe on someone else’s dime.

Apple filed the dispatches collected in Far Flung and Well Fed over the seven years before his death in 2006, and they appear here as the vestiges of a prior era, when the economics of the media industry still allowed for generous expense accounts. He was a worthy beneficiary of this largess. A dogged reporter, Apple enlightens on such varied subjects as a renaissance in cheesemaking in northern California, the rudiments of whiskey production in Scotland, and the evolution of the black pepper trade in South India.

And there’s the time spent in restaurants—from street stalls to Michelin-starred gastronomic temples. For me, these recaps were most engaging when I could follow along. Apple establishes his credibility early in the collection with an eating tour of my hometown, Philadelphia. He orders his cheesesteaks from Pat’s and Geno’s the right way (with Cheez Whiz and grilled onions) and lands at the best place to get a soft pretzel. Over 300 pages later, I perk up when I discover that we’d both dined at the History, a delightful hotel restaurant in Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala. I suspect that other readers will find it equally satisfying to play “Been there!” bingo alongside Apple’s itineraries.

These writings come across as antediluvian in another way. Apple came to eating in an era before sustainable and local became unavoidable buzzwords. In part, this is refreshing. Apple is content to follow his palate to freshness and authenticity, and often, like in the French village of St. Marcellin or the tomato plots outside of Naples, these virtues (presumably) overlap. It’s less so when Apple travels to Baja California in 2002 to cover an effort to farm bluefin tuna. There’s a brief mention that the species is under pressure, but no recognition that—as Paul Greengrass notes in 2010’s Four Fish—ranching operations like the one in question are probably more harmful than traditional fisheries.

The lack of continuity between entries, though no fault of Apple’s, occasionally frustrates. At one point, we learn that the market for Armagnac, the distilled grape liquor of southwestern France, is in turmoil; but soon, we read about the growing appeal of Grappa, another grape distillate, this one from northern Italy. My thirst for a comparison of their diverging fates is never sated.

These grievances can be muted by the proper strategy for consuming Apple’s many worthy bites. I’d suggest approaching this book not as a seven-course prix-fixe, to be tackled in rigid order from start to finish, but rather as a artfully-appointed buffet: a morsel here, a morsel there, repeat until full.

April 1, 2011