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Cristofori's Dream
Robert Italia
Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into The 3.5 Billion Year History Of The Human Body
Neil Shubin, Marc Cashman
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Enid Blyton
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Connie Barlow

Foodie Handbook

Foodie Handbook - Pim Techamuanvivit Okay. I have to say that I'm not impressed with this "(almost) definitive guide to gastronomy" by "Pim, queen of food bloggers". I've followed several food blogs from time to time and learned much more in those blogs than in this book. But I did learn a lot about Pim from reading her "foodie" handbook:
1. Pim does not like beets and even the best beet recipe is lost on her
2. Pim has enough money to travel all over the world eating food
3. Pim loves truffles but scoffs at truffle oil
4. Pim eats at fancy restaurants most people can't afford
5. Pim is Thai and thinks fruity wines go best with Thai food
6. Pim likes adding vanilla beans to most desserts
7. Pim likes "simple" foods with just a few exotic ingredients
8. Pim thinks boxed wines can only be enjoyed by people who don't have refined tastes in wine

But I don't think Pim and I can be friends because there's a difference between being a foodie and being a food snob. I think Pim tries not to be a food snob (or "empress" as she likes to say), but she really is. According to her:
1. I'm supposed to go to expensive restaurants enough to be known by name and what I like to order
2. I'm supposed to poo poo out of season ingredients
3. I shouldn't eat at restaurant with a large menu or one that has menu items from multiple cultures
4. I'm supposed to order wine with my meals
5. I'm supposed to travel the world eating local
6. I should return a knife with a small spot on it or ask my waiter to replace my water glass if it has too much ice in it
7. I'm not supposed to like unsophisticated sushi that has has avocado in it, has sauce on it, or is served with a dollop of wasabi.

Let's face it, when 17 out of your 50 things "every foodie" must do includes traveling abroad to do it, I think you've alienated 98% of your foodie readership. I don't think that you have to have lots of vacation time to burn, be rich, or have access to exotic ingredients to enjoy food. Why not tell how to order more authentic dishes from foreign restaurants rather than the Americanized fare instead of telling what restaurants I must visit around the world? Also, the section of the book devoted to drinking like a foodie was nearly unreadable unless you're familiar with scores of different types of wines. Surely drinking like a foodie doesn't rely entirely on drinking wine. There are so many more things in the world to drink besides wine. How about a mango lassie at an Indian restaurant or a drink made of fresh cantaloupe juice at a Mexican restaurant?

When I started reading this book, I thought that the point was to show that the best food is often simple like Warm Apricots With Honey and Saffron or Simple Bread and Onion Soup. She does have some excellent-looking recipes scattered throughout the book. While some of them do call for simple ingredients, others would require a citywide or internetwide search for the ingredients (hibiscus flowers, truffles, lychee, fancy oils, etc.). But that's not a bad thing. It's nice to learn about something new like hibiscus to add to something common like strawberries. I'm excited, too, about trying her Pad Thai recipe since it's her signature dish. She offers an idea for having a Pad Thai party and having everyone bring one of the ingredients for Pad Thai. She also offers the idea of creating a signature dish of your own though trying out variations on the recipe until it's uniquely and perfectly yours.

Don't get me wrong, this book isn't bad, but I'd love to see another foodie write a response to this book that is less food snobbish. Sure, it's fine to eschew processed foods in favor of fresh foods, it's great to insist on quality ingredients, and it's interesting to see what the world has to offer. However, Pim's a bit too snobby for my tastes. I'm sure that there are surely others who are bigger food snobs than Pim. However, I think I'll stick to my own level of foodiness for now. I'll order the sushi with the avocado, not go to restaurants I can't afford, drink Riesling (and sometimes boxed wine) with anything I want to, and cook with the spices in my cabinet that are more than 6 months old. And I'm okay with that.

P.S. You can find Pim's food blog (which I like better than her book) here at Chez Pim.

Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.