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Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture
by Dana Goodyear
As the palate of the American “foodie” grows ever more sophisticated and restaurateurs search for the new and the novel, a curious phenomenon has emerged. Creatures once considered taboo or disgusting are showing up as high-end delicacies; chemicals and fancy equipment infuse familiar food with notes of ash or straw. In their quest to provide ever greater thrills, chefs skirt the border of legality or even illicitly smuggle restricted items onto their customers’ plates. Whether motivated by a desire to try something different, find a sustainable protein resource, or to fight against the increasingly industrial food industry, Dana Goodyear encounters men and women from all walks of life as she explores the extremes of American cuisine.
I really do mean “all walks of life”. At the side of Jonathan Gold, an L.A. food critic, Goodyear visits tiny, family-owned restaurants where the extremely “ethnic” dishes can serve up extremely adverse reactions in the uninitiated diner. A few pages later, she might visit a five star restaurant with a famous chef, or pop into an “illegal” grocer where under-processed foods slip under the radar of the FDA. She talks to chefs who work regularly with smugglers to bring exotic ingredients into the states and scientists who encourage some outside-the-box cuisine in hopes of introducing new sustainable foods to the American diet.
I am the first to admit that the world needs to find some new food sources because there's no way that our ever-growing population can be supported by Western diet staples like industrial beef and chicken. However, I'm also an incredibly cowardly eater terrified to eat anything with eyes or toenails or other discernible animal features. Reading "Anything That Moves" was a unique experience. I read a few pages and start squirming as the author described foodies savoring the dung flavor of unpasteurized milk. Then a page or two later, someone would start spouting off about how unpasteurized milk is better for your body, and I think, "Oh, that's intriguing." I'd start to think that maybe, just maybe, I'd like to try unpasteurized milk. Then someone else brings up the "earthy" flavor and I get grossed out again.
This must be why I will never be a hardcore foodie, pushing the limits of cuisine. But I sure do enjoy reading about it. Dana Goodyear's book is highly entertaining and intriguing, if not always appetizing.
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: A Sound Among The Trees by Susan Meissner
2012: At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Clinard Barnhill
2011: Closing down for end of year Festivus…
2010: Sticklers, Sideburns & Bikinis by Graeme Donald
2009: News: TwiCon 2009