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 Alice Lowe

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food
by Paul Greenberg
Penguin Press, July 2010
Hardcover 284 pp. ISBN 978-1594202568

I’m a fishatarian, and I love good food writing, so I looked forward to digging into Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food. Paul Greenberg, journalist, conservationist and fishing enthusiast, offers a thorough and thoughtful study of the demise of wild fish due to overfishing and overconsumption. But Four Fish is much more—it’s a travel narrative and a personal memoir written in an accessible, entertaining style. Greenberg is a keen observer of people as well as fish.

"In 1978 all the fish I cared about died." He starts off with his not-very-privileged childhood, raised by a single mother on the fringe of upscale Greenwich Connecticut. She encouraged his interest in fishing, laying the foundation for a lifelong love of the sport and the fish themselves. The focus of the book is four fish species—salmon, bass, cod and tuna. Greenberg did his homework and presents a wealth of information in a well-spun yarn, his alarming facts jostling fly and fin with amusing adventures.

To learn about the scarcity of wild Pacific salmon from various viewpoints, he travels up the Yukon with commercial salmon traders and Yupik Eskimos. He reports the numbers along with his adventures—it boils down to there being more demand than can be met. After extensive travel and research his conclusion should interest salmon lovers who shun farmed salmon: "If we are going to continue to eat wild salmon, we must eat them sparingly as the rarest of delicacies and their price should reflect their rarity in the world." Remember abalone?

His seafaring adventures move to the Mediterranean where he meets up with Thanasis Frentzos, whom he describes as the Odysseus of sea bass: "Trim and square-shouldered, with a deep, resonant voice, a flowing mane of hair, a heroically long and flat nose, and an impressive, curling beard, he seems like someone recently escaped from the side of an ancient urn." Finding sea bass unsuitable for farming, Greenberg proposes an alternative, the Australian barramundi. It hasn’t caught on here yet, but he notes that what we call Chilean sea bass is really Patagonian toothfish: it sold poorly until it was renamed. Maybe they should call the barramundi "Asian sea bass?"

Colorful characters abound in his stories—sagas of the sea—woven into the tragedy of the demise of wild fish. He goes on to the history and collapse of cod fishing in Canada and New England. He does taste tests—wild versus farmed—with Mark Kurlansky, the author of Cod and numerous other food books. He addresses the growing scarcity of tuna because of high demands for sushi and compares the successful whale conservation movement to current efforts to get tuna listed as an endangered species. The big question, he says, is how we choose to co-exist with these wild, often magnificent, and increasingly scarce creatures: "Dining on a 500-pound bluefin tuna is the seafood equivalent of driving a Hummer." Greenberg argues his case convincingly and ends with recommendations for rebuilding the seas and for consumer awareness and action. But along the way he has taken readers on a voyage of discovery and adventure, like taking a class on an ocean cruise. In the company of a Ship of Fools-worthy cast of characters, we’ve crested the waves and felt the sea spray on our faces; we’ve come home with tales of the ones that got away.

May 2, 2011