I read recipes the way most people read fiction. I can get caught up for hours exploring recipe after recipe, thinking about flavor combinations and planning fantasy menus. This past year a strange shift has happened and I’ve been spending a lot less time cooking, for a variety of reasons. So my food-reading obsession has also shifted, from recipes to books about food history, the culture of eating, and more. (It doesn’t hurt that the past two years or so have brought an excellent crop of food lit.)
Right now, I’m reading The United States of Arugula. I’m not too deep into it yet, so I’ll share my thoughts on it later, but for now I’m fascinated by this tidbit I read: in 1939, at the time of the World’s Fair in NYC, pizza was so foreign to Americans that it warranted a definition and phoenetic spelling (“peet-za”) in the NY Times. Can you imagine? It blows my mind that no one but Italian immigrants knew what pizza was less than 70 years ago.
Next up, I’ll be reading In Defense of Food. I’ve been on a crazy journey this year to eat more heathfully, with results that swing wildly, to say the least. I have a feeling his reflections on nourishment will shed a new light on my efforts.
And waiting on the shelf, I also happen to have a first-edition signed copy of MFK Fisher’s Map of Another Town. The nicest boy in the world got it for me for a gift recently. I’m partly saving it to postpone the pleasure of reading it (just think: MFK held this book in her own hands!), and partly postponing it because I’m afraid to touch it!