The United States of Arugula – David Kamp (2006)

book153A gossipy name-dropping history (of a kind) of the Foodie culture in the States, this was a superficial dig into the cult of chefs, restaurateurs and food critics. Not being a huge Foodie myself, I must admit that most of the names mentioned I knew next to nothing about, so it was a bit like being trapped at a dinner party where everyone is talking about their good friends who you don’t know, and about this major party that you didn’t attend.

Nah, it wasn’t that bad. I did learn some interesting bits and pieces about the Foodie World, and I have to say that there were some curious characters both in the U.S. and in France. (As an American author in an American book, there was, of course, a duly American focus.) Julia Child got a brief mention, but only in a flippant breezy manner, while James Beard and the older NYT food critic Craig Claibourne were given chapter after chapter (both for their culinary appetites and for their extra-curricular activities). I don’t really understand why Kamp felt he had to place so much emphasis on the s*xual proclivities of these two (apart from trying to maintain the gossipy “insider” slant of his writing). It seemed pretty gratuitous to me and just there for the titillation of the writing – “How shocked my readers will be!”

Apart from that, this was a detailed well-written volume about a level of gastronomical culture that is way above mine. (I still love baked beans on toast.) At least now I know the names of a few snooty restaurants on each coast. However, I would expect major shock when I had their bill at the end of the  meal…


Speaking of food, look at the delicious UK things I found in my kitchen…


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