Archive for the ‘Food books’ Category

5 Overrated Foodie Books: 4 Fluffed, 1 Muffed

January 4, 2007

1) Tony Bourdain’s Nasty Bits: Some good, some bad, some ugly, much like Use Your Illusion, II. A few gems, but feels like a series of loosely connected refritos put together on deadline. Bourdain’s having trouble with a second act, other than being the celebrity Tony Bourdain. Fortunately, he’s smart enough to figure out a solution.

2) Jim Harrison’s The Raw and the Cooked: Repetitive. Okay to stitch columns together into a book. It just shouldn’t be so obvious. Anecdotes reappear, including a citation from a wealthy French friend, Jack Nicholson on overeating as only heroic in the Midwest and Elaine’s big veal chops. Even oddly esoteric word-choices, such as “factitious,” are repeated ad nauseum.

3) Michael Ruhlmans The Reach of a Chef. Big-font, triple space, wide margins. Much like a Princeton lax player’s senior thesis. Anyone else remember Courier 14? I did like Ruhlmann’s first two books but “Where’s the beef?” This mash note to celebrity chefs is a food version of Almost Famous. Get some distance!

4) Bill Buford’s Heat: Great New Yorker articles on Pasternack and Batali show Buford’s strength as a writer of profiles. However, amateurish sections on Renaissance food history overreach. Also packs a fair amount of stuffing into a book that could have been far shorter. There are four or five great articles in here, but not worth it at hard cover prices.


5) Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table: Concise, clear and larded with personal, sometimes painfully personal, anecdotes. But too many smudges on the glass for such a perfectionist. Counted 4 typos in the book, and big ones.

Could also use a bit more punch. I’d like to see some suggestions for fixing the restaurant industry, applying his ideas to different formats, cities, etc.


Re-Setting The Table: 5 Smudges on Danny Meyer’s New Book

January 4, 2007

In Danny Meyer’s restaurants, the tables are always well marked, and the glasses always glisten. The only fingerprint you see is his, and that’s on the whole place. Unfortunately, Meyer’s copy editor missed a few typographical “smudges” in the hardback edition of Setting the Table. Below are a few to fix before the paperback version goes to press.

1) P. 55 During in those first weeks and months it didn’t take me long to learn that very little makes guests madder than having to wait for their reserved table or their food.

2) P. 66 I had already learned that the trick to delivering superior hospitality was to hire geniune, happy, optimistic people.

3) P. 88 My assitant also reviews the sheet in the morning.

4) P. 120 First Paragraph: …having convinced his chef, Gray Kunz, to greatly expand the number of aromatic spices in the resataurant’s pantry.

5) I’m sure I missed one.