Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet
by Ruth Reichl (Introduction)
Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet, part of the Modern Library Food series, is a fascinating compendium of Gourmet magazine food and travel pieces spanning six decades--a collection that mirrors our dining habits over the years but is timeless in its underlying theme: we are what we eat. The assembled cast is tops: James Beard on pasta; Elizabeth David lauding epicure Edouard de Pomaine; M.F.K. Fisher on her favorite Swiss inns; Paul Theroux writing about crossing the Rockies; Anita Loos evoking cocktail parties of the 1920s. Compiled by Gourmet editor-in-chief (and series editor) Ruth Reichl, and with recipes from the contributors' pieces--including hobotee, North Carolina's famed meat custard, and Katherine Hepburn's brownies--the book will delight armchair and meal-chasing foodies alike.
Most readers will discover new voices among the more familiar. Present, as noted, is M.F.K. Fisher, offering one of her most splendid sun-and-shadow portraits, but there's also the underread (and magnificently dry) Ruth Harkness providing glimpses of a World War II winter spent in a crumbling Tibetan Lamasery, where she devoured $10,000 worth of rare pheasants; the drolly avuncular Joseph Wechsburg on Austria's legendary patisserie, Demel's ("the loudest sound you hear there is the breaking of crisp strudel dough"); crusty Maine poet Robert P. Coffin on Down East breakfasts and lobstering ("a night like a night of marriage"); and the reportorial, unblinking Jay Jacobs on Beard himself ("the man remembers in minute detail every one of the eighty-seven-thousand-odd meals he has eaten since his birth"). The quality of the essays varies, of course, but the book overwhelmingly gladdens in its rich breadth of time and place and evocative storytelling.
--Arthur Boehm, Amazon.com