As the site grows and readers join us, we realized a need to grow our culinary vocabulary. We felt reading more than just other food blogs would help increase our vocabulary and give us an insight into other foods, trends, chefs, locations, etc. So Joanna picked up a couple older books we’ve heard a lot about over the years on her last trip to Bangkok. Both of these aren’t quite cutting edge, but are proven favorites in the culinary world.
The first book I sought out was Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything. I chose this one due to his status in the food world. For those of you who don’t know the name he’s the food writer for Vogue magazine. His background is as a lawyer, though, and this comes through in the book… he studies and researches and builds cases for different types of foods, histories of foods, and examines fad French diets.
The most useful chapter (in my opinion) comes early on when he writes of his own personal food biases and how he overcame most of them. According to Jeff (let’s pretend I’m on a shortened first name basis with the guy), our tastes are conditioned into us by culture and exposure and with enough tries of anything we can begin to learn and appreciate the appeal. For him it was Kimchi…for me lately it’s been Sea Urchin and large amounts of Lemon…. Joanna is struggling with Sushi, lamb, and blue cheeses (a shared distate with Jeff).
The book was slightly disappointing as I hoped it would contain a mixture of essays and reviews… it is a food essay book through and through. His writing style is very approachable throughout and helps any food lover love food more however.
In a nice contrast to the book above is Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, Insider’s Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. This book isn’t the slighty obsessed pursuit of a foodie, it’s more of an insight into what the chef’s are going through to produce the plates picked over by fussy foodies.
The book is an easy read…well I should say enjoyable read as many of the chapters could very well spoil Sunday brunch or other meals for you…but his writing is fast and funny. Joanna read it ahead of me and even knowing that I would soon be reading the book as well, couldn’t help sharing funny bits or particularly interesting passages (seemingly 1 or 2 a chapter).
I worked two years in the restaurant world and grew up with my Uncle managing restaurants so most of the info here wasn’t as much revelatory as fun. It’s great to see that the guys who slave away, usually in 12-14 hour days, preparing everything from pub grub to fine dining do it out of a sense of pride and passion…sacrificing normal lives, pursuits, family life, etc in the name of a great meal (and of course money, sex, and drugsPin It