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The Truth About Food and Men

by Roger Welsch

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-018717-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

 That guy in the bib overalls who shows up on TV on Sunday mornings offers a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the larger meaning of the comestibles he likes. He will, it is clear, eat anything (and is proud of it). Welsch (Touching the Fire, 1992, etc.), anthropologist, folklorist, and dedicated trencherman of CBS Sunday Morning, describes the pleasures of very down-home, almost Neolithic, cookery. Mama's gelatinous rice, cowboy frybread, frumenty (wet wheat), and ``lachs'' (his spelling for the pink fish that, in the east, accompanies a schmear on a bagel) are all liable to grace his table. Lutefisk, beaver tail, and frequently porcine byproducts are grist for his mill. Welsch tries his darndest to entice the reader to partake of the delicacies he so ardently describes. Unless you are turned on by the thought of ingesting cold bacon grease while squatting in a duck blind, it's no sale. The text is larded with ``recipes'' that are both wildly (and intentionally) idiosyncratic and antinutritional. In the instructions for baked beans: ``add cut-up bacon, hamhocks, spam, wienies, old pork chops, bacon ends, fatback, sowbelly, etc.'' The portly Sage of Dannebrog, Neb. (pop. 322), is right: This is strictly guy stuff. They don't teach this sort of respect for gustatory adventure in ``Woman School,'' Welsch reports. The fun with food is easygoing and the wit is bucolic. (Welsch reinforces the style by not following the noun ``couple'' with the preposition ``of''; it's ``a couple this'' and ``a couple that.'') The text is as likely to satisfy as a six-pack of the local beer and ``boom John Carter's Huevos Rancheros,'' and is just as comfortable. A light ethnogastronomy of male feeding habits, of beans, bier mit tchuss, and such. Inevitably, just a bit gaseous. ($30,000 ad/promo; TV satellite tour)