The strenuously chipper tone grates, but it makes a refreshing change from the overseriousness of some restaurant critics.

THE RESTAURANT

A 2,000-YEAR HISTORY OF DINING OUT

A chatty, episodic history of eating out from British food writer Sitwell.

Ranging from the Roman Empire to “The Future of Eating Out,” the author, food critic for the Telegraph, favors an anecdotal approach that should please readers of A History of Food in 100 Recipes. Sitwell’s preference for good stories over coherent narrative is evident in early chapters on the Ottoman Empire and legendary Moroccan globe-trotter Ibn Battuta, which don’t describe anything modern diners would think of as restaurants. An interesting chapter about medieval England, where food stalls in busy markets moved indoors to become cook shops and eventually sit-down restaurants, is followed by “The Coffee House Revolution,” more focused on socializing and talking politics than eating. Sitwell gets back to restaurants with “The French Revolution,” which reveals that Paris became a hotbed of fine dining because private chefs for the aristocracy opened restaurants there after their masters lost their heads during the Reign of Terror. From “the first modern-day celebrity chef” (Marie-Antoine Carême) on, the author trots through material familiar to historically minded foodies: the impact of the gas stove, the ghastliness of postwar British dining; the 1967 arrival in London of authentic French cuisine at Le Gavroche, which fueled a subsequent explosion in great British cooking by chefs trained there; the fresh, locally sourced revolution led by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in San Francisco; the outsize influence of restaurant guides; and the controversial rise of molecular gastronomy. Sitwell seasons the narrative with some intriguingly offbeat fare: the transition of Britannia & Co. in Bombay from dishing out comfort food to British imperialists to serving Parsi delicacies to Indians; the question of “the cultural appropriation of food” as embodied in a taco-frying machine patented by a Mexican immigrant and carried to global domination by Taco Bell; the conveyer belt in a crowded Japanese restaurant that ultimately moved sushi around the world and spawned the ecological catastrophe of industrial fishing.

The strenuously chipper tone grates, but it makes a refreshing change from the overseriousness of some restaurant critics.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63576-699-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Diversion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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