1 Feb 2014

A good book for foodies: Edible Stories by Mark Kurlansky

"It smelled of so many things, different fruits and woods, that it seemed almost unnecessary to drink it. Whole five-course meals did not have as many flavors as a tiny sip of this wine, and a single sip kept tasting for minutes..."

Edible Stories by Mark Kurlansky (Gibson Square)
This novel starts with a chapter called Red Sea Salt - each chapter takes the name of a food or drink - in which a man is stuck down a hole in a pavement and has no clue whatsoever of how he came to be there or even who he is. Having lost his memory, and it turns out his sense of taste, he ends up becoming one of the top food critics and TV chefs in America.

Each chapter is really a short story in its own right and they all just about tie loosely together in a kind of tapas way, with the same characters popping up every now and then but the food theme never going away.

I loved how this novel spoke of a time and a place for specific foods. A girl's on a date at a New York Yankees baseball match and her new boyfriend has gone to the trouble of preparing a fancy picnic with Italian white wine - but secretly all she really, really wants is a hot dog to watch the match with, the meaty aromas tantalising her as they waft across their seats.

The book touches on snobbery, of daft social conventions but also important ones in food, of how it helps oil the wheels of family life and communities. In one amusing chapter (Osetra), a young gang member in the Bronx gets an insatiable taste for caviar and he can't stop shoplifting it; in another (Orangina), the arrival of Orangina in a town in south-west France is seen as a threat to the town itself, older locals fretting "this is a vin rouge town!" and calling for a ban.

Edible Stories is a witty and fun book and a clever reminder of how food and drink are at the heart of human relationships.

No comments:

Post a Comment