Choice cuts : a savory selection of food writing from around the world and throughout history

by Mark Kurlansky

Paper Book, 2002




New York : Penguin Books, 2002


"From Mark Kurlansky, bestselling and award-winning author of COD, comes a lively, insightful anthology of food writing from ancient to contemporary writers. CHOICE CUTS opens with an introduction about the history of food writing by Kurlansky and the book is illustrated throughout with his own pen and ink drawings. The anthology collects work from all over the world, and from all ages. It includes Cato, whose second century BC practical guide to rural life, 'De Agricultura', the oldest surviving complete book of Latin prose, is rich in food commentary that illuminates his time. This is also true of Pliny the Elder three centuries later, and Apicius, a chef who was one of the first great food writers. The collection pays tribute to writers for their social commentary, such as Emile Zola's observations about the fat and thin people at Les Halles market in his novel, 'The Belly of Paris', and Lu Wenfu's discussion of an appropriate revolutionary restaurant in Maoist China from his novella, 'The Gourmet.' CHOICE CUTS also includes some of the many writings on food and sex, food and national identity and those food writers who were spectacularly ill-informed. Alexander Dumas, argua… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member vsmoothe
"Around the world" is really stretching it. The writing here is almost entirely from America and Western Europe. It's just all the usual suspects, things I'd read time and time again. I mean, I Brillat-Savarin and MFK Fisher too, but they make for fairly dull inclusions in an anthology that I had hoped would expose me to new writing. Many of the excerpts are also way too short to get any meaningful sense of style or emotion from them anyway. Definitely worth skipping, unless you have never read any food writing and are looking for an introduction.… (more)
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Everything about this book is based on one simple subject - food. Kurlansky takes that subject and explores everything having to do with it. From growing, hunting, buying, and preparing to smelling, eating, and savoring it. The art of cooking, the downfall of rotting, from killing to cultivating. From Cato to Chekhov, Kurlansky finds quotes, essays and passages from a multitude of well known individuals, some with lives centered around food like M.F.K. Fisher and Elizabeth David and some not like Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway and E.M Forster. Whether focused on an ingredient like garlic or chocolate, or a technique like faking venison or baking bread, or a location like favorite restaurants or markets, Kurlansky covers it all. It's historical and cutting edge. Technical and funny. Poetry and dissertation. Well worth the read.… (more)


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