A glorious survey of food writing from the classical world to the present.
Edited by influential literary critic Sandra M. Gilbert and award-winning restaurant critic and professor of English Roger Porter, Eating Words gathers food writing of literary distinction and vast historical sweep into one groundbreaking volume. Beginning with the taboos of the Old Testament and the tastes of ancient Rome, and including travel essays, polemics, memoirs, and poems, the book is divided into sections such as “Food Writing Through History,” “At the Family Hearth,” “Hunger Games: The Delight and Dread of Eating,” “Kitchen Practices,” and “Food Politics.”
Selections from writings by Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain, Bill Buford, Michael Pollan, Molly O’Neill, Calvin Trillin, and Adam Gopnik, along with works by authors not usually associated with gastronomy—Maxine Hong Kingston, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Hemingway, Chekhov, and David Foster Wallace—enliven and enrich this comprehensive anthology. “We are living in the golden age of food writing,” proclaims Ruth Reichl in her preface to this savory banquet of literature, a must-have for any food lover. Eating Words shows how right she is.
About the Author
Sandra M. Gilbert is a distinguished literary critic, professor, and poet. She lives in Berkeley, CA.
Roger J. Porter is a professor of English literature at Reed College. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Eating Words is a remarkable gathering of commentary on every aspect of food from the ritualistic and ‘symbolic’ to the pragmatic; a wonderfully diverse collection of writers from the renowned and classic (Hemingway, Chekhov, Julia Child) to contemporaries (Anthony Bourdain, Michael Pollan, Calvin Trillin, Henry Louis Gates Jr.). There is much for carnivores here, not surprisingly, but surprisingly, there is a good deal here for vegetarians as well. Fascinating reading. A feast of a book!
— Joyce Carol Oates
Fernand Point once said, ‘As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit.’ How right he was. I encourage young chefs to take it all in and to never lose their appetite for learning. Eating Words makes a great first course. Nourished by these stories, they will be better prepared to contribute to our profession.
— Thomas Keller, chef/proprietor, The French Laundry
This engaging compendium of taste is certainly designed to suit all palates. The extraordinary selections range from the delicacy of a madeleine to the macabre details of hog slaughters, from prohibitions to a celebration of international cuisines. At the heart of this array lies the vein of language, which only reinforces the multiple pleasures of the text. It leaves the reader both fulfilled and longing for more. — Sara Suleri Goodyear
Eating Words is a sobering, entertaining, delicious, and delightful romp through the written world of food. The editors’ wide and inclusive arms have gathered many from different times and approaches. I loved rereading pieces I was already familiar with as much as reading those I didn’t know at all. Eating Words was a treat I looked forward to sampling every evening, and I believe that subsequent nibbles will be just as good.
— Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone