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Eating words

(article, Kim Carlson)

On the foodie website Serious Eats this week, Adam Roberts (another blogger-turned-book-author, with the recent publication of his new book [%bookLink code=0553804979 "The Amateur Gourmet"]) interviews David Kamp, author of The United States of Arugula, last year's bestselling chronicle of the rise of the American foodie. 

It's an excellent read. A nugget:

bq. Did it color the way you wrote about the people \[who influence American cooking\]? Did it change your perception of them?

bq. It changed my waistline. Naturally it does. It wasn't being dazzled by how virtuosic or how "gourmet" it was, it was more the application of how devoted they were to what they were doing and how much they maximized every last scrap of food . . . the profit margin of any restaurant is very thin: so making the most out of everything — whether a lobster or a chicken; they're not just going to use the meat. They'll use the bones or the shell for stock; they're going to get everything they can out of every ingredient. That somehow impressed me more than anything; that had a profound impact on how I cook at home. Waste not, want not. I'm so impressed at how they maximize the use of every ingredient.  

And another:

bq. I have friends who'd never go to a nice restaurant but they'd spend $40 going to a bar.

bq. I'm not even particularly a big fan of Whole Foods — but the punchline is everyone calls Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck," but no one ever calls Best Buy "Best Part of Your Paycheck." I find it ridiculous because people shell out so much money to have seven TVs in their homes, but if the average American were to spend $5 more a day on food, that'd be considered elitist or Ivory Tower. And I think lots of Americans are getting wise to that.

Kamp, who's also written a series of books about snobbery for baby boomers (The Rock Snob's Dictionary, The Film Snob's Dictionary), has a new book in the series coming soon, titled [%bookLink code=0767926919 "The Food Snob's Dictionary"]. From the book's blurb:

bq. Open a menu and there they are, those confusing references to “grass-fed” beef, “farmstead” blue cheese, and “dry-farmed” fruits. It doesn’t help that your dinner companions have moved on to such heady topics as the future of the organic movement, or the seminal culinary contributions of Elizabeth David and Fernand Point. Both entertaining and authentically informative, The Food Snob’s Dictionary travels through the alphabet explaining the buzz-terms that fuel the food-obsessed, from “Affinage” to “Zest,” with stops along the way for “Cardoons,” “Fennel Pollen,” and “Sous-Vide.” 

Need more? Roberts — whose 10-essay book, according to Publishers Weekly, offers "lessons from his own journey out of fast food and microwave captivity to the Promised Land of Foodiedom" — has an excerpt up on the Powell's bookstore website. Best, however, might be the hilarious interview with Roberts' proud mom on David Lebovitz's blog.