Ben Schott's new compendium covers all things epicurean. This smorgasbord of fascinating facts on food and drink contains a feast of useless and useful trivia and many savory tidbits of knowledge. Arranged in no particular order are facts that will interest every food lover. For example, if you thought a gourmet was at the top of the hierarchy of gastronomy and a gourmand at the bottom, think again. In reality, the gastronome is the supreme connoisseur of food and drink and the goinfre, or greedy-guts, is the basest.
If you are a world traveler, you will appreciate the list of world beers, foreign toasts and ways to say grace, international variants for Coca Cola logos and Domino's pizza toppings (in India you might choose lamb and pickled ginger), how to ask for the bill in over twenty different languages, and a list of the 121 countries and territories where McDonald's has a presence. If you enjoy food preparation, you might benefit from recipes for cocktails or roast swan, a handy chart of food storage times for fridge and freezer, and the boiling point of water at various altitudes. If you have an interest in things medical, you will find descriptions of diseases of the digestive system, facts on odd food cravings, and hangover cures. For the lover of eclectic food facts, there is information on how to blow smoke rings, read tea leaves, and recognize poisonous mushrooms. There are charts on the body mass index, vitamins, and pasta shapes. There are lists of notable vegetarians, diner slang, edible flowers, Jelly Belly flavors, and the Scoville scale for chili pepper hotness.
Also included are Jewish blessings for wine and bread, and the rules of Halal, which is the Islamic dietary law. There are lyrics for the Chiquita banana song and facts on the joys and disadvantages of garlic, durian, fugu, and asparagus. You will learn why kopi luwak is the world's most expensive coffee. You will be alarmed by the list of dangerous food and drink, including the pretzel with which George W. Bush had a near-fatal encounter. I could go on and on. This book is a treasure that you can pick up at random to learn interesting new things. It is funny, imaginative, witty, and amazingly educational, and it is sure to make you hunger for more. There is even a built-in ribbon bookmark with which to mark your favorite fact of the day. I will leave you with a quote from P. G. Wodehouse that is located on the back of the book jacket: "I hadn't the heart to touch my breakfast. I told Jeeves to drink it by himself." Strongly recommended for the trivia lover.