A delicious anthology of the best American food writing from 2012.
Hughes once again pulls together the year’s tastiest examples from the growing field of food writing. The editor has chosen wisely from an abundance of blogs, magazine articles and books, and this collection presents an eclectic mix of food experiences. In an era of celebrity chefs and much-hyped restaurants, this collection is thankfully absent the pretentious musings of restaurateurs and TV stars. It’s the unexpected approaches to the genre of food writing that are the most appealing. Take, for instance, Rowan Jacobsen’s “Gumbo Chronicles,” about searching for the ingredients to make gumbo in post–oil spill Gulf waters. In “A Matter of Taste,” Barry Estabrook exposes readers to the fascinating world of tomato cultivation. “Still Life with Mayonnaise,” by Greg Atkinson, is an ode to the ubiquitous yet rarely appreciated condiment. In “On Killing,” Hank Shaw presents a meditation on hunting, and John Birdsall explores the production of pastrami as a lost (and very expensive) art form. Kevin Pang’s “A Chef’s Painful Road to Rehab” gives readers a disturbing taste of the darker side of being a professional chef. Some of the best essays explore the emotional connections between food and memory. Elissa Altman ruminates on family relationships in her short but powerful “Angry Breakfast Eggs,” and in one of the most moving essays, “They Don’t Have Tacos in the Suck,” Katharine Shilcutt layers a visit to taco trucks in Houston over a visit with a long-lost friend, an explosives expert stationed in Afghanistan.
A collection of strong writing on fascinating topics that will appeal to foodies and essay lovers alike.