Friday, February 4, 2011

How To Be A Better Foodie (Book Review)

My husband and I recently killed some time in Big Lots before a movie we were seeing.  While there, he discovered a $3 book that he thought might intrigue me.  He was indeed correct; I was intrigued.  So we purchased said book and I spent the next week reading it.  It was a smallish book, so I didn’t think it would take that long to peruse.  I was wrong.  The book was deceivingly thick.  (A week is a pretty long time for me to take reading one book, though I know that’s not the case for everyone.)

How To Be A Better Foodie: A Bulging Little Book For The Truly Epicurious by Sudi Pigott was the little find.  A first glance, it appeared to be a little encyclopedia of facts and interesting tidbits.  I’m always curious to know more about gourmet food especially, which this book seemed to focus solely on.  I should have known from the title that it was a little too self-important.  But I just thought it was kind of tongue-in-cheek.  It was not.

Apparently Ms. Pigott is British.  This is not surprising after reading her book.  But I’m not sure I would have been quite as interested in the book if I’d known that from the get-go, simply because I might have suspected that her opinions and experiences would be on quite a different par than my own.  A suspicion that would have proved true.

This book is entirely snooty and almost unreadable.  Throughout the book, the author uses as many large, frilly, French, Italian or unpronounceable foodie words as humanly possible.  (Example from page 38, just a title for a short paragraph: “A plethora of recondite and vintage batterie de cuisine”.  I understand about half of that phrase.)  Several times she actually defines an ingredient I’ve never heard of with another word I’ve never heard of.  (Example from page 272: “What is zampone, often eaten at Italian New Year celebrations, better known as?  Trotter.”) 

The book is sprinkled with quotes from well-known people about food.  (Example from page 45: “‘There is no love sincerer than the love of food.’ George Bernard Shaw, playwright and Arch Better Foodie.”)  These are delightful and interesting to me.  (I should note that the use of the term “Better Foodie” is prolific throughout the book, used to describe people who are on the same Foodie plane as the author herself apparently.)      

I would never have called myself an expert on food.  I just enjoy it a lot.  But I felt like the author was name-dropping names I’d never heard of or cared about.  (No mention of Julia Child?!)  I’m sure everything she lists, in terms of ingredients as well as restaurants and chefs, are high quality.  But more than half of what she talks about I will probably not be able to enjoy in my lifetime.  Expensive, expensive.  Not to mention she must be a world traveler, with special note of European locales.  She includes a couple State-side eateries but still nothing that would be in my price range or general demographic area. 

In my opinion, this book was a waste of time, though I think I have a better grasp of the fact that I’ll probably never attain “Better Foodie” status.  And I’m okay with that.

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