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A Gourmet Investigates the Ingredients of Great Food


Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 1992
ISBN: 0-87113-500-0
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

 The title of this book, and of Behr's quarterly newsletter The Art of Eating, notwithstanding, the real subject of the essays collected here is not eating or cooking but food itself--or, more accurately, specific foods--and, in Behr's view, ``very good food, the best'': how it develops, how to choose it, and sometimes how it has vanished. In the first piece, he defends salt against health bureaucrats' ``alarmist guidelines''; in the last, he reports on Seattle's serious coffee culture; along the way, he laments the passing of good cream and discourses on such topics as the varieties of apples, the difference between black and white mustard seeds, the relative merits of vanilla beans and extract, the superiority of farmed mussels over wild, and how to get good ham (``Smithfield'' on the label no longer means much). It all seems to flow along with no particular direction, but Behr's research, both field and library, is purposive enough. Neither scientific like Harold McGee's investigations nor lively like Jim Thorne's Simple Cooking (also from a newsletter on food), these pieces are still undemanding enough for casual browsing and substantive enough for serious food mavens.