Monday, November 21, 2005


The last time I went to the library, I came home with three books, all about food: A Cook's Tour (Anthony Bourdain), Fork It Over (Alan Richman) and It Must Have Been Something I Ate (Jeffrey Steingarten).

They're all good books - topics I love written about in a funny, engaging way. But, like the kid in The Chocolate Touch learned the hard way, even a good taste starts to get boring when it's all you ever eat. Or, in my case, read.

And the books are good, really. I just won't make the mistake of reading three books by food writers at the same time (even Bourdain himself admits now that he's probably more writer than chef.) The three authors have different voices, but only just different. Bourdain is a little dirtier, and his book is more of a travel book than the others. Steingarten is more scientific (I swear, I learn more from him than I ever did in high school chem). And Richman is...someplace in the middle.

The voice overlap is annoying, but it's not the biggest problem with reading all three at once. No, that honor belongs to the subject matter. Normally, I looove reading essays about how food and culture intersect. Obviously. But I only like to read them once.

Unfortunately for me, these three authors don't seem to have the same editors. As a result, no one is keeping them from writing the same chapters. There is no doubt in my mind that the food of Vietnam is amazing, but I'm almost bored with it now (never having been there) after reading about it from Bourdain and Richman.

And somebody really should have told Richman that Steingarten wrote an interesting, juicy essay on the Trader Vics/Polynesian restaurant phenomenon...back in 1997. Richman's chapter on the same topic was good...but it wasn't first. I felt like I knew everything he was about to say. And I'm sure I'm not the only person who's read both books. They seem to kind of have the exact same audience.

Perhaps this food writing fatigue is what's kept me from cooking the past few days. Cooper and I cooked (together) a nice dinner on Friday night, but it's been all ordering in or minimal prep dinners since then.

Maybe what I need to do is buckle down and finish Fork it Over tonight (I'm already finished Cook's Tour) I only have one food book on my plate (heh heh). Then, hopefully, I'll have my cooking mojo back...just in time for Thanksgiving (when my mom does all the cooking anyway.)

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