Venturing deep into the underground foodie culture, New Yorker contributor Goodyear (The Oracle of Hollywood Boulevard: Poems, 2013, etc.) plunges into the world of dedicated individuals who routinely skirt the boundaries imposed by common culinary practices and tastes.
The author is no stranger to ingesting foods many would forego. During a stint in China, she ate chicken feet and consumed a seven-course meal of dog meat. When Goodyear began hanging out with extreme foodies, the type of characters who consider insects, frog fallopian tubes and horsemeat as fair game for dinner, her food boundaries expanded. A dish composed of “slippery jellyfish in sesame-oil vinaigrette, and a raw oyster, poached quail egg, and crab guts, meant to be slurped together in one viscous spoonful” provided the author with an example of the “quiver on quiver on quiver” characterizing the “convergence of the disgusting and the sublime typical of so much foodie food.” Goodyear skillfully stitches together the philosophical, psychological and legal underpinnings of this emerging movement with the stories of those consumers who seek out the sometimes-bizarre foods. She explores bits of culinary history, how culture plays a role in what’s acceptable to eat and the ethical lines some individuals won’t cross when it comes to exotic eating. The author visited underground pop-up restaurants, which combine “the raucous dinner with random tablemates, and the self-conscious staging of an elevated social interaction,” and she spent time with the chefs who routinely traverse the outer limits of America’s new food landscape. One chef, irate at the amount of waste in the meat industry, believes meat eating mustn’t be easy but should force people to confront their food choices. Chris Cosentino, a well-known chef among adventurous eaters, “started serving the parts Americans no longer wanted to eat: spleens and blood and sperm; lungs, lips and livers.”
Goodyear’s exploration of this engrossing and morally complex topic provides a solid footing for hearty conversations.