Longtime editor Hughes once again compiles a tasty collection of culinary essays for those who love to eat, cook and read about food.
“With such an insatiable audience,” she writes in her introduction, “there are more outlets for food writing than ever, in print and on-line and on the airwaves. It’s an embarrassment of riches, not unlike those overstuffed CSA bags of produce.” Hughes scoured bookstores, magazines, newspapers, newsletters and websites, including GQ, the New York Times, Edible San Francisco, the Chicago Reader, Tin House, Fire and Knives, Graze and GiltTaste.com before selecting the essays included here. Together, they represent the diverse tastes, quirks and passions of America’s burgeoning food culture. Organized within categories such as The Way We Eat Now, Farm to Table, The Meat of the Matter, Home Cooking and To Be a Chef, the essays surprise, educate and highlight the trends within the food movement. A short sampling includes: the merits of seasonal eating; celebrating Thanksgiving on the Chesapeake Bay; how saying grace can offer a different take on a meal; the rigors of tossing pizza; how to make real New England clam chowder; food trucks in Hawaii; the Southern pleasure of combining cola and salted peanuts; and the demise of Hostess Bakeries. Michael Pollan opines on the chemistry and heavenly benefits achieved while sautéing aromatic vegetables. Investigative journalist Tracie McMillan explores the stories we tell ourselves about the joys of home cooking. Houston Press writer Katharine Shilcutt bemoans America’s industrialized agriculture and food production systems and deconstructs her first taste of a McDonald’s McRib sandwich. “I felt so hollow afterward,” she writes, “that it was as if my stomach had shifted outside my body, as though my abdominal cavity was rejecting it in shame.” Other contributors include Edward Behr, Gabrielle Hamilton, Rowan Jacobsen and Eddie Huang.
A literary trek across the culinary landscape pairing bountiful delights with plenty of substantive tidbits.