Last week I received a very nice e-mail from an editor at National Georgraphic Traveler. He told me that he enjoyed my website and that in his line of work he received many stacks of food books that just lay around. Would I like him to send some to me?
I wrote back: “Yes, Oh God, Yes Yes Yes!”
I can be very enthusiastic over e-mail. Today I received the package:
Let me walk you through the contents:
First, there is a CD (not photographed) called “Sahara Lounge.” I have yet to listen to it, but it features such savory tracks as “Soap Kills” by Dub4me and “Toufic Farroukh” by Yasmine Hamdam. The latter is good, but nowhere near as titillating as “Yasser Habeeb” by Elama. I’m just saying.
Then there are the books. The first book (on the lower left side of the photo) is Robb Walsh’s “Are You Really Going To Eat That?” This is actually a legitimate, newly published and well received book hot off the food stands. So in terms of things in the package I’ll actually read, this is highest on the list. So if you were to ask “Are You Really Going To Read ‘Are You Really Going To Eat That?'” I would answer: Yes. Unless it was over e-mail, in which case I would answer: Yes, Oh God, Yes Yes Yes!
And then there are the others. Moving counter clockwise, there is “The Unofficial Guide To Ethnic Cuisine and Dining in America.” This book seems useful, until you read (or, in my case, skim) the Preface. Here is the money quote: “Western European cultures have a tendancy to look down on societies that eat with their fingers, although they themselves only gave up the habit–reluctantly–a handful of generations ago….Eating with the hands slows you down, makes you concentrate on and enjoy your food more, so you actually eat less.” I find it highly offensive that these authors undermine western civilization by assuming we will react with disdain when it comes to hand eating. But allow me to speak for all of western civilization when I say: ewwwwww! That’s so sick, dude!
The next book up the pile is “Blue Trout and Black Truffles” by Joseph Wechsberg. The subtitle is: “The Peregrinations of an Epicure.” The Peri-what-ations? Let me look this up.
According to Dictionary.com, peregrination means: “To journey or travel from place to place, especially on foot.” In my mind it means: “to use really pretentious words on book covers.” And for that reason, we’ll toss this one aside.
And yet, when we see what remains we claw our way back to the Peregrinations. The last book–“Indonesian Street Food”–is such an atrocity, that it’s difficult to believe anyone invested time or money in its production. The inside cover looks like a cross between a brain and the Print Shop “Paisley” design from my AppleIIgs.
To be fair, the book contains recipes, journal entries from trips to Indonesia and a CD-ROM. To be sassy, though, the recipes are for strange things like “Bakmi Goreng” “Sambal Goreng Jipang” and “Oseng Oseng.” Does using these names to humorous effect betray my own hidden xenophobia?
Perhaps, but listen to this guy’s prose: “I am listening to a growling conversation in my stomach as I gaze out the open window of a crowded bus headed for Malang in Eastern Java.”
Or: “A cool darkness has fallen. The bus pulls into a station and screeches to a halt. We all rise and ride a human wave down the aisle, out the narrow door, and several meters along the gravel pavement.”
Now, call me a prose snob, but Joyce he is not.
And, should this review paint me ungrateful, please erase that impression from your brain. I am anything but! I am simply being thorough. I will treat all other things sent to me with equal thoroughness. So please do not be discouraged from sending stuff. In fact, I encourage it. For more information, e-mail me by clicking the button “E-mail Me” on the left.
Thanks George at National Georaphic Traveler! I’m off to make some “Sambal Goreng Jipang.”