What's more fun: eating food or reading about it? Justifying the latter proposition in style, Best Food Writing 2000 offers an enticing selection of the year's best book, magazine, newspaper, newsletter, and Internet food prose. It culls the work of a wide range of authors, including Maya Angelou, Madhur Jaffrey, Calvin Trillin, and John Thorne--writers associated with food and not. Foodies and nonfoodies alike will welcome Best as a rich source of literary snacking.
Within its five parts, which include "Stocking the Larder," "Dining Around," and "Personal Tastes," the book offers delights such as Eric Asimov on America's most expensive restaurant; Grace Young exploring wok cookery; Anthony Bourdain recounting a chef's day in the life; and Anne Willan on the Burgundian table. Readers will also enjoy Vince Staten on barbecue, Jim Quinn's "Recipes for Dummies," Laura Fraser on giving up vegetarianism, and Trillin on the perfect bagel. What emerges finally from the book is a sense of how we feed ourselves, in every way. A look at this compelling question, plus a host of other food-related matters, makes this collection a small joy. --Arthur Boehm
Although this debut addition to the annual "best of" books offers some fine writing about food, its most likely audienceAfoodies who subscribe to cooking magazines and purchase cookbooksAwill have already read at least half of these essays when they originally appeared in Gourmet, Bon App?tit and similar publications (e.g., R.W. Apple Jr.'s ode to high-quality bacon first appeared in the New York Times, and in a piece from Vogue, Jeffrey SteingartenAthe self-described "man who ate everything"Awrites of his search for pig's blood). However, as Hughes points out, she culled her selections from a variety of media including culinary memoirs, social histories, profiles of chefs, essays on trends and techniques, and odes to individual foodstuffs such as Marlena de Blasi's nostalgic tribute to an especially satisfying plate of pasta. In one of the more engaging articles entitled "Bottom-Drawer Blues," Kim Severson of the San Francisco Chronicle interviews Chuck Williams of Williams-Sonoma about kitchen gadgets (e.g., egg separators and Williams's three-pronged hot-boiled-potato peeler) that just don't sell. Other successful pieces are Anne Mendelson's Gourmet essay against celebrity-chef cookbooks and Laura Fraser's rationale from Salon.com for quitting vegetarianism after 15 years that initially appeared on Salon.com. (Dec. 1)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.