Friday, June 17, 2011

Feeding a Yen

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Feeding a Yen (Random House, 2003).

I'm glad that I chose to save this one for a rainy day and not rush through it like I did Calvin Trillin's first three books about eating well. I loved the feeling of coming back to some of his cast of characters after they were introduced 25 and 30 years previously. Trillin's daughter Abigail no longer requires a bagel be brought with her to whatever new restaurant her dad has found, but he still plays on her loyalties to New York bagels in an attempt to get her to move back to the East Coast.

The focus of this book - insofar as there can be said to be a focus, Trillin's books being as magically rambling as it is possible to be while remaining coherent and compelling - is on local specialties, on foods that you can't get anywhere else, or, in the case of Kansas City-styled barbecue, you would not want to try. Whether he's tracking down ceviche in South America or taking advantage of a diverted flight to drive from Albequerque to Santa Fe for posole - might as well, he was in New Mexico already - he tells his stories with equal parts silliness and love.

The longest section of the book concerns a ridiculous restaurant - so outlandish that I found myself questioning its existence - in New York whose eccentric owner will come up with bizarre specials based on an in-joke, forget how he intended to make them, and then serve them anyway. It is a very funny and very inspirational set of writings - I would not be enjoying the fun of my food blog without Trillin, obviously - and it sure will make you want to eat. Highly recommended.

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