ALICE, LET'S EAT by Calvin Trillin
Kirkus Star

ALICE, LET'S EAT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A superior second helping of American Fried (1974). Trillin is the sort of food lover who flees from soulless imitations--""Cornhusker French"" restaurants with purple interiors, ""Sigma Chi sommeliers,"" and flaccid canned vegetables. He fervently seeks out regional specialities--Kentucky country ham, Martinique crawfish, crabs on any coast (""When it comes to crabs, I'm ecumenical"")--and has devised his own rule of thumb for smoking out the best local barbecue. Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City remains a personal favorite (ahhh, the burnt edges) and a London Chinese restaurant wins first prize and repeat visits for its Great Dried Beef in the Sky. Also on the menu: a suspicion ""that Alaska and Florida are providing each other's shorefront restaurants with bland frozen fish,"" a free-swinging contempt for nutritional fashion (""bean sprouts are the yuckiest food of all""), and a 31-booth salute at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Old friend and fabled pizza baron Fats Goldberg (recently enshrined in the Smithsonian) appears now and then to rival Trillin's Big-Hungry-Boy exploits and idiosyncrasy quotient, and several other attractive, recurring figures add zest and tart repartee: wife Alice, for example, whose failings include a limit of three meals a day; two daughters with diabolically undeveloped taste buds--one carries bagels to Chinese restaurants ""just in case""; and assorted crosscountry contacts who will fly in with green-corn tamales or join the quest for some elusive culinary grail. All this, plus a healthy portion of self-mockery and a little more salt rubbed in establishment wounds (John and Karen Hess, who didn't like Arthur Bryant's, are called ""premiers fressers""). On the sliding scale--prime goods. Or as one legendary. Kentucky eater puts it, ""Thank God for capacity.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1978
Publisher: Random House