Yellowed and dated, some are reviews of books I meant to track down, others are excerpts from yet other books I meant to track down. But they all represent the ubiquity of food in our lives and as a topic for fact and fiction.
In The Belly of Paris, Zola uses the market as a political metaphor for the excesses of the Empire. Meanwhile, The Literary Gourmet, Menus from Masterpieces (one I actually did get) recalls Roman emperors using food to humiliate cabinet members and Senators. Claudius demanded that the Senate deliberate the importance of a life without pork. I suppose if they’re not dealing with lead in the water pipes or refuse to educate themselves on women’s health issues, why not?
My favorite overlooked food writer, Angelo Pellegrini postulates what it might take to create an American cuisine, beyond the industrialized abundance he discovered when, as a boy, he came to California from Italy . He is a great believer in “the spur of necessity,” also known as hunger, but calls as well for time, an insistence on quality, an open mind, and “a humane attitude toward the dinner hour,” rather than “the slavish imitation of foreign recipes.” I wonder what he would think of Korean tacos?
And a few scant years before Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential was published in 2000, Gary Alan Fine published Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work in 1996 with the University of California Press. The reviewer notes that he explores, “in academic detail the life and hard times of the professional cook.” Was it the academic detail, or was the culture just not ready. Perhaps Fine emphasized ethnographic analysis over adventures with flame, knives, and pressure.
These articles get to live. I’m going to tuck them between the pages of the books that are left and let the next browsing reader discover them.