Friday, October 27, 2006

Six books notable for their food prose

David Kamp, a Vanity Fair contributing editor and the author of The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, named six books that are "notable for their delectable food prose" for The Week magazine.

Here is a healthy serving from his list:
Between Meals by A.J. Liebling

Liebling was a New Yorker journalist who only dabbled in food writing but was nevertheless, in my opinion, America’s best food writer. This short book compiles his recollections of eating his way through Paris—in both the 1920s and ’40s. Liebling was roly-poly; were he alive today, he would be upheld as an exhibit of America’s “obesity epidemic.” But he was discriminating in his gluttony, and these buoyant essays evoke a wonderful era when such behavior was morally permissible.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Great novel, great gastro-porn dinner scenes. Like Liebling, Wharton offers a look back at a time when gourmandism was an extreme sport. The wealthy Mingott family gorges itself on oysters, terrapin soup, canvasback duck, and vintage wines. One character actually says, “I’ve been a little gouty since my last dinner at the Lovell Mingotts’.”

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

This book is no longer a sleeper hit, obviously; Bourdain is a brand now. But I think that Kitchen Confidential will be looked back upon as a watershed moment in food lit—when it became allowable to write about chefs, kitchens, and cookery with guts and savage humor, and without the twee voice that still permeates the food magazines.
Click here to read about Kamp's other three book selections.

Learn more about The United States of Arugula here, and click here to read an excerpt.

Foodies hungry to read more dining related items on the blog should click here,
here, and here.

--Marshal Zeringue