Friday, July 3, 2009

I'm a Foodie who Doesn't Cook, but Likes a Good Book on the Subject

I'm celebrating because I actually read seven books in June. That's my best total since February. Some folks said I'd never have time to read again but:

1. I do still have a 30 minute bus ride every day and
2. I have all these events and like to read as many of the event books as I can.

So the sad truth is that I'm reading, but the books are being somewhat dictated to me. That means less books in advance, which means less voting for books on the Indie Next list. And that bums me out.

But the latest book I read wasn't an event book, at least not yet. It was Andrew Coe's Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States. The title's a bit misleading, since 40% of the book (the first 100 pages) takes place in China. But that's actually about the perceptions of American traders in China, so perhaps that's also part of our history. I found it all quite interesting and readable, and the only part of the book that's clearly Oxfordian is that the notes and bibliography are included.

Aside, did you hear about the to-do Chris Anderson caused over Free because his publisher Hyperion decided not to include his notes and therefore he didn't properly cite information he gleamed from Wikipedia. Or something like that--I apologize for possibly getting it slightly long. Pretend you are overhearing me in an elevator. Needless to say, I'm don't argue the premise of the book, but I'm not thrilled with it either. That's why it amuses me to cite the blog Plagiarism Today so that you can read more on the controversy.

Anyway, that's a mistake Oxford wouldn't likely make. It's good to know that both Asians and Europeans thought the others smelled bad on first meeting, though for different reasons. And I really, really needed someone to sort out the truth from the lies regarding the century's old "chop suey hoax."

But most of all, Andrew Coe's book made me realize that we could really, really, really, really use a good Chinese restaurant on Downer Avenue. Hey, there's a Chinese church only about 5 blocks north of us. And by good, I don't mean another branch of #1, though I do like their house special soup and their steamed dumplings.

So I'm finished, and what to tackle next? Back to events--I'm starting Mark Caro's Foie Gras Wars, a balanced look at stuffing animal livers. Coincidentally, Coe was one of the writers on Michael Ginor's Foie Gras: A Passion, an oversized love letter to the delicacy from '99.

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