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Ruth Reichl on American food

(article, Culinate staff)

When online magazine The Browser does its FiveBooks interviews with notable food authorities, the focus is usually on the books, such as Fuchsia Dunlop's top five books about Chinese food. But the website's most recent Q&A, with former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, detours extensively into Reichl's thoughts on American food.

Her top five American-food books — The Art of Eating, [%amazonProductLink asin=086547236X "Between Meals"], Diet for a Small Planet, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, and [%amazonProductLink asin=0812971558 "The Unprejudiced Palate"] — are wide-ranging, emphasizing memoir with a little food politics thrown in. "For me, all these books — with the exception of Diet for a Small Planet — are really an exhortation to pay attention to the little things in life, to get pleasure out of this thing we all do every day, three times a day," Reichl told The Browser. "That’s what attracts me to them."

Reichl's most intriguing comments, though, come in the section on Diet for a Small Planet. The vegetarian classic, she declares, would be a vegan book today. And she thinks that junk food has dulled our palates: "I think part of what happens is that if you start training yourself to actually taste food, you turn away from a lot of \[junk\]."