Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat

Craig Claiborne. He would give Julia Child her first major book review. He brought Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers, Paul Prudhomme, and Jacques P├ępin to national acclaim. His $4,000 dinner for two in Paris was a front-page story in the Times and scandalized the world. And while he defended the true French nouvelle cuisine against bastardization, he also reveled in a well-made stew or a good hot dog. He made home cooks into stars—Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Diana Kennedy, and many others. And Claiborne made dinner an event—whether dining out, delighting your friends, or simply cooking for your family. His own dinner parties were legendary. Through Thomas McNamee's painstaking research and eloquent storytelling, The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat unfolds a history that is largely unknown and also tells the full, deep story of a great man who until now has never been truly known at all. Narrated by Dick Hill, this is an appealing, tasty audiobook for anyone interested in food and restaurant history, particularly in New York since Claiborne was food critic at the Times for many years. He transformed the bland out-of-a-can or Cheez Whiz jar meals that characterized America post WWII into something elegant and complex, with new tastes derived from French cuisine and more. This was a complex yet simple man without great ambition, (except to indulge his passion for food.) It was a surprise, even to him, how much influence he ended up wielding. Hill transforms the pages of the book into something to be savored, too, with a dramatic lilt and tone that carries the listener along from one rapturous meal to the next. Comparing FAST FOOD MANIAC (for junk food lovers) to this book is like comparing the laundry list of a corporal in the Civil War to the Gettysburg Address.    

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