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The Man Who Ate Everything (1997)

by Jeffrey Steingarten

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,525278,265 (3.88)25
Winner of the Julia Child Book Award A James Beard Book Award Finalist When Jeffrey Steingarten was appointed food critic for Vogue, he systematically set out to overcome his distaste for such things as kimchi, lard, Greek cuisine, and blue food. He succeeded at all but the last: Steingarten is "fairly sure that God meant the color blue mainly for food that has gone bad." In this impassioned, mouth-watering, and outrageously funny book, Steingarten devotes the same Zen-like discipline and gluttonous curiosity to practically everything that anyone anywhere has ever called "dinner." Follow Steingarten as he jets off to sample choucroute in Alsace, hand-massaged beef in Japan, and the mother of all ice creams in Sicily. Sweat with him as he tries to re-create the perfect sourdough, bottle his own mineral water, and drop excess poundage at a luxury spa. Join him as he mounts a heroic--and hilarious--defense of salt, sugar, and fat (though he has some nice things to say about Olestra). Stuffed with offbeat erudition and recipes so good they ought to be illegal, The Man Who Ate Everything is a gift for anyone who loves food.… (more)
  1. 40
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (Ronoc)
  2. 20
    Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl (cransell)
  3. 10
    Eating with the Pilgrims and Other Pieces by Calvin Trillin (dajashby)
    dajashby: Another New Yorker on his life and opinions about food.
  4. 10
    An Omelette and a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Elizabeth David, the first 'celebrity; chef writes as well as Steingarten and has better recipes!
  5. 10
    It Must've Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten (sturlington, John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: A set, a pair a couple! Both these books are collections of the author's erudite and witty pieces for Vogue/
  6. 21
    The Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin (carlym)
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» See also 25 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
I've seen Jeffrey Steingarten as a judge on the cooking competition show Iron Chef America and I've always enjoyed his gruff, opinionated personality - and especially his clear love of food! I was excited to finally get a chance to read the book for which he's best known.

It's everything I hoped it would be - opinionated, intelligent, learned, passionate, articulate, and funny.

I do have some issues with the structure of the work. This book is a collection of his food writings from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. It's not a cohesive narrative. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that... but I've discovered recently that this isn't my favorite style of book to read. Each chapter is wonderful, taken its own. I just have a hard time getting into the flow of reading when the narrative is so episodic, and the episodes aren't connected. It makes for a choppy experience.

What makes this book important - invaluable, in my opinion - is the argument it presents for being well-informed about food and nutrition. Mr. Steingarten insists on researching various health, nutritional, and cooking issues as deeply as possible; he constantly seeks to see through the hype and pop-science, to dismiss the fads and fears, and learn what we actually know about these things. It turns out that knowledge is frequently very different than what we're told.

Bear in mind, though, that this book came out in 1997, so the state of knowledge has changed since its publication.

If everyone made even half the effort Mr. Steingarten goes to, to learn what we really know about how we eat - this country would be much, much healthier. And our food would be far more joyous! ( )
  johnthelibrarian | Aug 11, 2020 |
Most collections of previously published material (short stories, newspaper columns, etc.) suffer from a wide disparity in quality as well as un-linked subject matter making it difficult to develop an understanding of the "text" as a whole.

The chapters which discuss health research/health impacts have aged the worst, because they are an inch-deep in their information and largely outdated. The more personal chapters are much more rewarding and interesting. ( )
  sarcher | Jan 13, 2018 |
This book is as refreshing as a cool, green salad on a hot summer night. Steingarten is both serious and funny, sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes culture-deprecating, but always with a sense of humor and a rigorously tested palate. Funny, entertaining, and flavor-enhancing. ( )
  Jeannine504 | Jan 23, 2016 |
TMWAE is the local chapter of Slow Foods' book club selection for November. Although I don't participate in the book club, I checked out a copy from the library nevertheless. And, I really enjoyed the first third of the book. Thereafter, my reading experience started to resemble one I often have when consuming an elaborate multi-course meal. I arrive hungry. The first couple of courses taste fabulous. At the point at which I'm satiated, the food still tastes good. Then, whoops, I've eaten too much and I don't feel as great. Unfortunately, eating to excess has the effect of revising my overall opinion of a meal downward. And so it went with Steingarten's book, which I read as a book, straight through. His chapters, however, were originally written as food columns and should probably be read as such for maximum enjoyment. Meaning, read one now and one tomorrow or the next day and so on and so forth. That said, Steingarten writes well and with a lot of humor. I particularly enjoyed the chapters in which I either learned something useful ("Ripeness is All" & "Pies From Paradise") or those in which he narrates a quirky obsession that he follows through on to the limit, such as testing all the various "subsistence" diets that he can lay his hands on or preparing all the "back of the box" recipes that he's able to collect. Although I don't share many of Steingarten's food festishes nor food aversions, I did nod synchronistically while reading his account of spending 2 weeks in Japan eating nothing but Japanese food ("Kyoto Cuisine"). I had a similar experience after spending a month in Japan in the 1970s. I was sure I must have been Japanese in some former life, since I never tired of the food and never felt any acute craving for other cuisines all the while I was there.
Read this book as one should eat, in moderate-sized portions, and enjoy the feast.
( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
One reviewer suggested he had an unhealthy obsession with food, but if so he’s not bothered by it. He became the food critic of Vogue in 1989 and the book is a selection of some of his articles from there and other publications.
He is nothing if not thorough, pursuing the subjects of his current fascination with unrestrained zeal and a level of persistence that would make him fairly unbearable, if he didn’t have such a dry sense of humour.
The book is a series of travelogues as well as food explorations, as he flits all over the world with carefree abandon in search of the answers to whatever his current burning question is, apparently unrestricted by any considerations of money or other commitments. Oh for such a lifestyle.
It’s a very long book (360 odd pages) and by the end I found myself wishing he’d run out of investigative missions, especially when he made the discovery that the very best French fries need to be cooked in horse fat. And then set out to acquire some. ( )
  Anne_Green | Mar 10, 2014 |
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