Despite an early arc to the narrative, this renders an engaging portrayal through its author’s detailed, sensitive writing...

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THE LAST DAYS OF HAUTE CUISINE

AMERICA’S CULINARY REVOLUTION

This moving foray into the world of restaurateuring in modern America proves that cuisine is as crucial to 20th-century history as technology, rock music, and television.

Chef and food-writer Kuh (An Available Man, 1990) describes the post-WWII evolution of American cuisine from its domestic European roots to its cosmopolitan, mass-marketed present. The story of the decline of luxury dining and the emergence of California cuisine is not a new one, of course, but the author brings a unique depth to it, offering insights into how cuisine reflected the changing times—describing, for example, how the advent of the credit card influenced restaurant culture: “the increased availability of credit would bring the gastronomic experience within reach for a social class of Americans for whom it had never been available before: the middle class.” In addition, Kuh’s appreciation for the chefs, personalities, writers, and businessmen of the restaurant world infuses his account with a compelling emotional element. The main course of the story, however, may be found in the juxtaposed arcs of the careers of Henri Soule (the elitist owner of Le Pavillon) and Restaurant Associates (the trend-setting firm behind the Four Seasons). This takes up more than half of the story. The effect is an early climax, with the second half (a portrait of such latter-day food icons as Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters, Le Cirque’s Sirio Maccioni, and Julia Child) appearing almost in the guise of a footnote. The author is also prone to dicing private memories into this history stew and, while these help to bring home the point that cuisine is personal as well as historical, they come and go abruptly, leading the reader on a somewhat erratic course.

Despite an early arc to the narrative, this renders an engaging portrayal through its author’s detailed, sensitive writing and apparent affection for his subject.

Pub Date: March 19, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-89178-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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