Anecdotal, autobiographical, gastronomic jottings from self-described "hired belly" Jacobs--who seems to assume that his near 15 years as Gourmet magazine's New York restaurant critic makes his every bite, peeve, and junket of interest to the perfect strangers he expects to read his book. In some of these wordy and splenetic chapters, Jacobs hatters on, often to no particular point, about the sometimes "joyous," sometimes execrable meals he's had in China, France, and elsewhere. In others, he sounds off with disdainful self-importance on foodie fads of recent decades and on the "ethicality" of free meals, fringe perks, and travel subsidized by establishments to be reviewed (an arrangement he tended to avoid). In the worst, he goes on at dull length about the circumstances of his own hiring and firing by Gourmet. And in all he shows off with names--both dud and famous--of the people and the restaurants he encountered on the job he seems to feel endows him with a lifetime supply of dropdead glamor.