October 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to catch Adam Gopnik on “On Point” discussing the meaning of food (full audio available here). The interview opens with Gopnik telling the story of Jacques Decour, a resistance fighter, who on the morning of his execution in 1942, writes a letter to his family speaking mainly of…food. The statement Decour puts forth in his letter, “Questions of food, you see, have taken on a great importance,” is one Gopnik explores in his new book, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food.
Gopnik applies this theory to present day:
“Questions of food seem to have taken on a great importance for us now, too. An obsessive interest in food is not a rich man’s indulgence, confined to catering schools and the marginal world of recipe books. Questions of food have become the proper preoccupation of whole classes and cable networks. More people talk about food now– why they eat what they eat and what you ought to eat, too– than have ever done before. Our food has become our medicine, our source of macho adventure, and sometimes, it almost seems, our messianic material.”
And the conversation moves on to other ideas that trace back to this theme. Ideas like:
The meaning of food being a shared pleasure
Food being the most immediate way we express our values
What is going on around the table is more important that what is going on the the table and we need to make a greater balance
Physical, sensory “mouth tastes” almost always become a “moral taste” and what we eat isn’t so much what we are as how we choose to present ourselves
And even though I always immensely enjoy (almost) all my meals, through all these posts and recipes and tastings and dinners out, it’s nice to take a step back and think about the larger meaning of eating. I haven’t read Adam Gopnik’s Paris To The Moon but I will certainly add it to my list along with his new book and keep an eye out for essays in The New Yorker.
June 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Seems like it is the season for celebrity cookbooks as many a star in the food world has taken up the pen. Maybe some of these can make it on to your summer reading list or perchance, the Book Club here?
Gail Simmons chronicles her rise in the culinary word from line cook and personal assistant to Top Chef Judge and host of the Desserts spinoff in her memoirs Talking With My Mouth Full.
Marcus Samuelsson’s tale begins in Ethiopa, continues in Sweden and leads to a James Beard award, three stars from the New York Times and a state dinner at the White House in Yes, Chef.
Anthony Bourdain is everywhere. His graphic novel Get Jiro, a critique of modern food culture is out July 3rd and he is signed on to publish the Mission Chinese book. All while aiding in wife Nigella Lawson’s unnamed ABC cooking show.
I’m especially excited to read former Times Restaurant Critic, Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving out this fall.
Jessica Seinfeld has a follow-up to Deceptively Delicious in the works geared toward people who are “terrified” of cooking.
And it won’t be out until next spring but I am super psyched about, Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home by Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner, features staff meal recipes from New York restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants.