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The Man Who Ate Everything: And Other…

The Man Who Ate Everything: And Other Gastronomic Feats, Disputes, and… (1997)

by Jeffrey Steingarten

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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 |
Was sad to see that the whole book was not about his experiment to get rid of his food aversions. Instead a collection of essays on food. Not bad - just not what I was in the mood for. ( )
  dms02 | Feb 27, 2014 |
Totally enjoyed this well written, funny book. My husband however is glad I'm finished since he finds my relentless quoting a bit tedious. My favorite essay: Salad, the Silent Killer. ( )
  Elpaca | May 1, 2013 |
Steingarten's essays on food, more or less, from Vogue.

Steingarten has a great ear for detail and makes many clever asides. He's funny when you agree with him, annoying when you don't. He has strong opinions about food, nutrition, and diets, often expressed in extremes, sometimes inaccurate (e.g., the man can assert all he wants that lactose intolerance doesn't include cheese, but he's never had to sprint with me to the bathroom after a nice Quiche Lorraine consumed sans Lactaid). The tone is usually genial, at least some of his over the top assertions are clearly tongue in cheek, and one admires his willingness to devote himself utterly to a recipe or process for weeks at a time.

I admit to skimming some of his recipes, since I know I'll never make them and I'm not that interested in, say, the perfect apple pie.

Osho's Apple Pie
Remove one frozen pie crust from the package. Fill with thinly sliced apples. sprinkle with cinnamon and a little lemon juice. Cover the edges with foil if you like, but I hate crust, so I just break it off before eating. Bake at around 350F until the apples are cooked through and the crust is brown.

There, that was much easier than Steingarten's 10 page (I kid you not) apple pie recipe, which may be delicious but perhaps not in proportion to the effort required. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375702024, Paperback)

When Jeffrey Steingarten was made food critic of Vogue in 1989, he began by systematically learning to like all the food he had previously avoided. From clams to Greek food to Indian desserts with the consistency of face cream, Steingarten undertook an extraordinary program of self-inflicted behavior modification to prepare himself for his new career. He describes the experience in this collection's first piece, before setting out on a series of culinary adventures that take him around the world.

It's clear that Vogue gave Steingarten carte blanche to write on whatever subjects tickled his taste buds, and the result is a frequently hilarious collection of essays that emphasize good eating over an obsession with health. "Salad, the Silent Killer" is a catalog of the toxins lurking in every bowl of raw vegetables, while "Fries" follows a heroic attempt to create the perfect French fry--cooked in horse fat. Whether baking sourdough bread in his Manhattan loft or spraying miso soup across a Kyoto restaurant, Steingarten is an ideal guide to the wilder reaches of gastronomy, a cross between M.F.K. Fisher and H.L. Mencken.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:45 -0400)

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