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