I have a severe problem- I'm obsessed with food. I recognize it, and I know I should be getting help for it, but I just cant. I refuse. Part of my addiction, aside from eating and cooking, is reading. I read every book I can find about food. I find them inspiring, as well as educational. Heat by Bill Buford I got tons of inspiration out of, and seriously wondered if some great chef somewhere would allow me to apprentice in his kitchen. The Last Days of Haute Cuisine: The Coming of Age of American Restaurants by Patric Kuh, taught me the history of the American restaurant as it changed from something that only the highest echelon of people would go to, to a standard in our day to day lives. The introduction of credit was the beginning of this change, and the types of restaurants that accepted credit was the beginning of the divide. Food has been a deciding influence, whether we choose to see it or not, for ages. I had never considered it before but garlic was once considered peasant food, and would never cross a proper Frenchman's plate. Today, you can hardly find a dish that doesn't incorporate its goodness-at least in my humble kitchen.
Now, as odd as it may be, I tend to do my food reading at the gym. Call it inspiration during perspiration and the kick I need to keep going. Anyway, my current gym read has been Eat This! 1001 Things to Eat Before You Diet by Ian Jackman. I present this to you with the caveat that I have not yet finished this book. Actually not even close- so I'm not going to present this as book report. However I do want anyone who loves food to read this. You can borrow my copy when I finish it-but I want it back- this will be used as a type of encyclopedia.
Jackman starts off his accounts with fresh produce. He visits farms all over the US showcasing their incredible wares. The best apples from New York State, tangerines from Rhode Island, and where they got their start. He discusses celery, and where it gets its green color from, and how tasty its white counterpart is. Berries from the NorthWest, which all sound wonderful and I can personally account for Marion Berries from Oregon. They may be the best berry ever. He finds fruits that Ive never heard of before, and actually I don't think he had either, and determines the best way to eat them. After exploring all the fresh fruits and vegetables he can, he delves into prepared foods. Pickles and mustard (TONS of mustard) and other wonderful condiments. Then into Cereals. Who knew that the oldest cereal, at least in this study, is Grapenuts? We're starting in on baked goods now. Hes gone through the best donut hes ever had (let me tell you- that was good gym reading), and other tarts. I'm currently still reading his baked goods descriptions, and I'm loving every minute of it.
This is a book that makes me want to hop in the car, drive across country and stop at every stand, market and festival hes talked about. The US is chock full of undiscovered treats, and savory findings- who wants to head out on a road trip with me?
FYI- National Mustard Day (which DOES have an accompanying festival) is August 2nd this year!