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Acquired Tastes: On the Trail of the World's Most Sought-After Delicacies [Paperback]

Massimo Marcone

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Book Description

Feb. 15 2010

Dubbed the undisputed “Indiana Jones of food science,” Professor Massimo Marcone ventures into the bizarre world of food delicacies with this follow-up to his much lauded previous book, In Bad Taste. Part travelogue, part scientific journal, Pass the Food goes where no other book has gone before. Dr. Marcone describes his journeys into remote regions around the world, often risking life and limb in his quest to explore and explain why people eat what they eat. Whether it’s shark-fin soup, maggot-infested cheese, ant eggs, scorpions, fried grasshoppers, or seal-flipper pie, Marcone approaches his subject with the zeal of a scientist, but also with flabbergasted amazement at what human beings are willing to eat to sustain themselves. His investigations lead to fundamental questions: Why do people eat this food, and what makes it a delicacy? Is it a delicacy simply because it is rare or odd? Why is it so expensive? Is it truly quantifiably different or better than their more conventional varieties?

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Key Porter Books (Feb. 15 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554702798
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554702794
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 12.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #514,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Quill & Quire

Not many Canadians get compared to Indiana Jones, but then again, few would travel the jungles of the Amazon in search of an indigenous drink known for its unique process of fermentation, in which the beverage’s key ingredients of corn and cassava are chewed before brewing. This is all in a day’s work for Massimo Marcone.

Marcone is the University of Guelph food scientist who did the first study on the now infamous Kopi Luwak coffee beans, which are gathered from the feces of the Indonesian palm civet. He is the expert that documentarians and food regulators routinely call upon to explicate the real story behind foods that sound too impossible to be true.

Marcone has a penchant for investigating foods that would never pass Canadian health and safety regulations. In France and Germany, he seeks out cheese that is dependent upon hungry mites to round out its taste, and in China, he finds a tea made from the droppings of moth larvae that have digested the tea leaves.

Unfortunately, this follow-up to In Bad Taste: A Quest for the World’s Most Exotic Foods, begins badly. The first chapter is a repetitive and uninspiring slog in which the author attempts to define what makes a particular food a delicacy. A better book emerges once he embarks on his travels to discover more about the processes behind the harvesting of foods such as truffles and saffron.  

Marcone writes in the style of a guy telling his mates a story in the pub. Although he conveys admirable enthusiasm, he sometimes gets more exuberant than his subject seems to warrant. Then again, it’s hard not to have a strong reaction to tea made from moth larvae droppings.


“If I were you, I’d sooner eat this book than eat the food described in it. But definitely read it first. It’s fascinating.”?Steve Hartman, CBS correspondent, 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning “Foodies, globetrotters, and even those of us who cringe at the thought of consuming insect parts or Kopi Luwak ‘scat’ coffee will enjoy Professor Marcone’s exploration into the foods many Westerners would consider disgusting.”?Kristina Matisic, executive producer and co-host, The Shopping Bags: Tips Tricks, and Inside Information to Make you a Savvy Shopper “Who would have expected a mild-mannered Canadian professor to become investigative super sleuth, battling bugs, bats, and bad guys in search of the origins of unusual foods?... Reading this book was like watching a Hollywood movie unfold. It is a dramatic and fascinating tale of science truly at ground level?.”?Avis Favaro, medical correspondent, CTV National News “This adventurous book is not for the faint of stomach! Yet even readers with timid tastes can savor the intriguing menu of bizarre delicacies the Dr. Marcone serves up with zest, verve, and antic enterprise.”?Dr. Dudley R. Herschbach, Harvard University, Nobel Prize in Chemistry

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strongly recommended pick for those intrigued by what the world eats April 2 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
If it's organic and not too hard, Humanity has tried to eat it. "Acquired Tastes: On the Trail of the World's Most Sought-After Delicacies" discusses the strange and bizarre of the human palette ranging from the obvious insects to the rotten meat of sharks in Iceland, Professor Massimo Marcone gives readers a fine exploration of humanity's unique tastes all over the world and tries to find the origins of why these more unusual meals became common place and sought after. "Acquired Tastes" is a strongly recommended pick for those intrigued by what the world eats.

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