Steingarten’s essays on food reveal a man who is so obsessed with good cooking and the pleasures it brings that he will do all of those things many of us wouldn’t dare to attempt in the search for a good meal. He will spend all day with French villagers taking apart a pig to learn the secrets of blood sausage. He will attempt to turn his home oven into a 900-degree pizza oven trying to reproduce truly great pizza crust at home. He will order every electric rotisserie and rotisserie attachment knkown to man to try to recreate spit-roasted chicken without the fireplace. And he writes about all of his culinary adventures with a dry wit, self-deprecating humor and complete disdain for food phobias, allergies, and the arcane rules and regulations of the USDA. It is not often that reading about cooking and eating is more fun than actually cooking and eating, but this book is the exception that proves the rule. And you can do it all afternoon without gaining a pound, unless you are overcome by the urge to try one or three of Steingarten’s exacting recipes.
The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten (1997)
I didn’t find this earlier collection of essays to be as enjoyable as It Must’ve Been Something I Ate, I think because they had more of a scientific, research-ly approach. But there is still a lot of terrific reading about food here, even if some essays seem a little dated. Of particular interest are the chapter on french fries — one of my favorite foods — and the one on salt. Steingarten’s mission is to prove that all those foods they say are bad for you really aren’t, and he makes a convincing argument here.
Tagged: Jeffrey Steingarten