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 Becca J.R. Lachman

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love
by Kristin Kimball
Scribner, October 2010
Hardcover 276 pp., ISBN: 978-1416551607

I started reading The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love over strong morning coffee, but halfway through the book’s prologue, I realized it was Kristin Kimball‘s vibrant storytelling that was speeding up my heart rate. Kimball’s reality TV-worthy memoir narrates her “wild turn toward the dirt” when she falls for an idealist agrarian crazy enough to jumpstart a deserted farm in northern Vermont. In winter. With two people.

But Kimball does much more than follow a man into a pastoral sunset: right from the start, she relishes in her own passion for sustainable food. One moment, she’s a melancholy, high-heeled freelancer cobbling together rent money in New York City; she compares her relationship with food to “one night stand brief encounters with takeout” and uses her refrigerator for storage. The next, she’s writing about “taxi cab yellow” butter she (happily) churned herself. She’s grooming draft horses and realizing that in times of upheaval, people really do go back to the land. And so, perhaps most importantly, Kimball’s memoir is part of a much bigger storyline in America: a growing movement to bring back small farms based on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, where members buy shares at the beginning of a season, then enjoy a diverse harvest. Kimball describes it as building an “iconic farm” from scratch that feeds “a rather large extended family.”

From an organic garden at the White House to chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, we are inviting food politics into our everyday conversations. The Dirty Life asks us to further study what we put onto our plates and to investigate how it got there: “There’s a wisdom to the appetite,” Kimball reminds us, “that if you clear out the noise of processed food and listen, healthy and delicious are actually allies. We are animals, after all, hardwired to like what’s good for us . . . Cook things, eat with other people. If you can tire your own bones while growing the [food], so much the better.”

But this is not a memoir that glosses over farming’s excruciating demands—or the realities of a dedicated relationship. Many pages follow Kimball’s emotional rollercoaster caused by exchanging one version of driven “success” for another. The Dirty Life might make you ache to buy a pair of coveralls and start digging&madash;but it will also let you know what you’ll be getting yourself into. After all, it’s the story of an ex-world-traveler-vegetarian whose to-do list for her wedding week reads, “Clear hay from loft. Wire for lights. Slaughter bull for ox roast. Butcher chickens for rehearsal dinner. Write vows.”

More than anything, The Dirty Life encourages readers to rethink their own eating vows. “Food,” Kimball learned, “is the first wealth. Grow it right, and you feel insanely rich, no matter what you own.”

March 3, 2011