Perfection Salad

Shapiro, Laura. Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century. New York: North Point Press, 1986.

Reason read: June is the month we usually migrate to the CSA and our farm of choice, Mountain View. I’m also reading this as part of the Portland Public Library reading challenge.

This was a great read on so many levels. Laura Shapiro writes with an easy and often humorous style. If you are interested in the science behind cooking; the chemical process of cooking food or the biological process of digestion; how arithmetic factors into cooking. How about the study of bacteria, whether it be from the germy dishcloth or the garbage can? Domestic “scientists” were determined to improve diets through science and chemistry.
Cooking because the great equalizer at the turn of the century. the interest in learning to cook was as such that in shops cooking was done in the open so that customers could witness both ingredients and preparation (the birth of the cooking show?).
From a feminist angle, it was great to read about so many women “firsts.” For example, Ellen Richards as the first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Even though she was considered a “special student” she broke the male-only barrier in 1870.
My favorite invention from this time period was the “Aladdin Oven” – a portable stove the size of a dinner pail that would cook a meal all day long. The first slow cooker!

Author fact: Shapiro has two books listed in More Book Lust. The second book, Something From the Oven is on my list to be read in a few years.

Nancy said: Pearl called Perfection Salad “entertaining and informative” and promised readers it would “change the way you look at food and its preparation” (More Book Lust p 73).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed 600s” (p 71).


June Travels

Of course I am not really traveling anywhere, but for the first time in a couple of months I have (finally) gotten back to reading. and. And! And, I did drive a car for the first time since 3/19/20. There’s that. In truth, I have been reading all along, just not with the pleasure and leisure I used to have. All of that is slowly coming back, in part due to the realization it’s okay to disappear into the pages from time to time. It is okay to read with no other agenda. I have started to think of the books as different forms of travel. Without further ado, here are the books for June:

Fiction:

  • The Second Summer of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. Places I’ll go: Washington, D.C. & Alabama.
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Places: Pennsylvania & something like heaven.
  • Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Places: around Sweden.
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Places: Barcelona, Spain and thensome.
  • Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. Places: My back yard of Western Massachusetts and Honduras.
  • Garden of the Gods by Gerald Durrell. Place: Cofu, Greece.

Nonfiction:

  • Perfection Salad by Laura Shapiro. Places: all around New England

Nod to November

What happened in November? I finished physical therapy. But really, PT is not finished with me. I signed up for a 5k in order to keep the running alive. As soon as I did that I needed x-rays for the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my hip and groin. Like stabbing, electrocuting pains. Diagnosis? More sclerosis and fusing. Yay, me! In defiance of that diagnosis I then signed up for a 21k. I am officially crazy.
Here are the books finished for the month of November:

Fiction:

  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (AB/print)
  • The Edge of the Crazies by Jamie Harrison
  • Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Beaufort by Ron Leshem

Nonfiction:

  • Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher

Series continuations:

  • No Villain Need Be by Vardis Fisher (finally finished!)
  • Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel
  • I Will Bear Witness: the Nazi Years, 1942 – 1945 by Victor Klemperer

Early Review for LibraryThing: nothing. I jinxed myself by mentioning the book I was supposed to receive. Needless to say, it never arrived. So I never finished it. Ugh.


Gastronomical Me

Fisher, M.F.K. The Gastronomical Me. New York: North Point Press, 1989.

Reason read: November is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month.

This is a series of essays written about Fisher’s life between 1912 and 1941. She covers a wide range of topics; from the first time food became significant to her as a teenager in boarding school to her adventures as a newly married wife living in France. When she said goodbye to her Californian-American palate and encountered French cuisine it was like having an epiphany for Fisher. Her ears (and taste buds) were open to a whole new way of experiencing food and drink. Sprinkled throughout the stories are glimpses of Fisher’s personal history. Her relationship with sister Norah and brother David, the demise of her first marriage with Al, the slow death of her second love, Chexbres, and her awakening to a different culture in Mexico. At times I found Fisher’s language to be overly dramatic. I wondered if she spoke like that in real life.

Confessional: I found Fisher to be a bit snobbish. Every time she called someone stupid or simple for whatever reason, I cringed.

Quote I cared for, “Everyone knows, from books or experience, that living out of sight of any shore does rich and powerful things to humans (p 40).

Author fact: Fisher has written over thirty books. I have already read A Considerable Town for the Challenge and have two more to go. Another more basic piece of trivia is that M.F.K. stands for Mary Frances Kennedy.

Book trivia: Gastronomical Me has been called Fisher’s most autobiographical work and has been considered her best.

Nancy said: M.F.K. Fisher “expresses her love of good food and its importance in the lives of families and communities” (p 91).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Food for Thought” (p 91).


November Pain

The running – oops – I mean the training is officially over. I don’t know where the run will go from here. I am toying with a 5k for Safe Passage next month. To hell with toys. I WILL run for Safe Passage next month! But really, I don’t even want to think about that right now since PT has ended. For now, I still have the books. The list is long because we aren’t going anywhere for Thanksgiving. Here’s to four days off with nothing to do but read, read, read. Here is what’s on tap for November:

Fiction:

  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (AB) ~ in honor of November being the best time (supposedly) to visit India (AB / print). Confessional: I think I would like to remove the category of “Best time to visit fill-in-the-blank.” How am I to know when is the best time to visit a country when I have never been there myself? I’m getting a little tired of saying “supposedly” the best time to visit.
  • Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay ~ in honor of Kay’s birth month
  • Beaufort by Ron Leshem ~ in honor of Lebanon gaining independence in November

Nonfiction:

  • Gastronomical Me by M.F.K.  Fisher ~ to recognize National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month

Series Continuation:

  • No Villain Need Be by Vardis Fisher ~ to continue (and finally finish) the series started in August in honor of Idaho
  • Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents month
  • I Will Bear Witness/To the Bitter End by Victor Klemperer ~ to continue the series started in October in honor of Klemperer’s birth month
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel ~ yes, I am still reading this. Just tying up loose ends.

Early Review for LibraryThing IF it arrives (so far it hasn’t):

  • Jam Today: a Diary of Cooking with What You’ve Got by Tod Davies

If there is time:

  • Foolscap, or, the Stages of Love (fiction) by Michael Malone ~ in honor of Malone’s birth month
  • The Edge of the Crazies (fiction) by Jamie Harrison ~ in honor of Montana becoming a state in November.
  • The Caliph’s House (fiction) by Tahir Shah ~ in honor of November being the month Morocco gained independence.

 


Don’t Eat This Book

Spurlock, Morgan. Don’t Eat this Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005.

Reason read: April is National Food Month

If you know anything about Morgan Spurlock you know he is sarcastic, funny and extremely outspoken. I should also mention smart and fearless.When it comes to the evils of fast food Spurlock is all of those things times a hundred. Mention health issues related to morbid obesity and you can practically hear his frustration ooze out in every written word. Spurlock is the man who decided to eat nothing but fast food for thirty days and document his journey. His findings are not earth shattering. They shouldn’t even be surprising and yet they prompted the writing of Don’t Eat This Book. Quite clearly, Spurlock had much more to say on the subject. Within these pages he explores diets around the country, particularly in schools, hospitals and other institutions across the United States. He interviews lawmakers and key decisions makers in an attempt to investigate and reveal the culprits behind our nation’s growing health crisis.

Edited to add: Right after I posted this blog I received an email from LiveStrong with the subject, “What’s REALLY inside McDonald’s chicken McNuggets?” I kid you not.
Eye openers:

  1. At the time of Spurlock’s book he reported McDonald’s had bought Chipotle. What the what?!? Not exactly. McDonald’s initially invested in Chipotle but by 2006 (a year after Don’t Eat This Book was published) they had fully divested itself from the chain. Phew!
  2. You support Philip Morris whenever you buy Altoids, Kraft products, or Milk-Bone dog biscuits, just to name a few.

Author fact: As I mentioned before, Spurlock made a movie which I’m sure you have either seen or at least heard about called “Supersize Me!” – all about what happens when you eat nothing but McDonald’s food for thirty days. He won the Best Director prize at Sundance for his efforts.

Book trivia: There are a lot of “side bar” notes. During the listening of Don’t Eat This Book they sounded like interruptions.

Audio trivia: Spurlock reads his own book.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Guilt-Inducing Books” (p 110).


April Comes Quickly

I don’t know where March went. I’ve looked under calendars and in date books and I still can’t figure it out. The month went by so fast! Here are the books finished for March:

  • Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
  • The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
  • Family Man by Jayne Krentz
  • Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (AB)
  • The Brontes by Juliet Barker (DNF)
  • Means of Ascent by Robert Caro (DNF)
  • Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan (Fun)
  • In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (would have been an Early Review book a long time ago)

On tap for April (besides a little Noodle 5k run):

  • A Considerable Town by MFK Fisher ~ in honor of April being the best time to visit France
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman ~ for fun
  • Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi ~ in honor of gardening month
  • Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot ~ in honor of April Fools
  • Don’t Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock ~ in honor of April being Food Month (AB)
  • The Grand Tour by Tim Moore ~ in honor of Harvey Ball passing in April

Cod

Kurlansky, Mark. Cod: a Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

Reason read: Mark Kurlansky was born in December.

This is a book about all things cod. Really. Beyond the historical and ecological significance of the fish there is etymology and art and music and of course, recipes. Don’t get too excited – they’re really old recipes that do not sound appetizing! As an aside, I have a student worker who is just amazed someone could write an entire book not just about fish in general, but a specific fish at that. Here’s my reply: It’s a concise book, but did you know that color of a cod fish depends on the local conditions? Also, the colder the water, the smaller the fish because cod grow faster in warmer waters. Better yet, there are fascinating tidbits not related to cod. For example, all English towns that end in “wich”  were at one time salt producers. And did you know Clarence Birdseye of Brooklyn, New York held over 250 patents before his death and not all were related to the process of freezing food? But, back to the cod:  let’s not forget about the historical significance this fish had on the American Revolution! Interesting, right? So, in the end one can safely say Cod is not just about the historical significance of one little fish, it’s about a way of life .

Two lines I liked, “Fishermen were keeping their secrets, while explorers were telling the world” (p 28) and “Finally, in 1902, seven years after the death of Huxley, the British government began to concede that there was such a thing as overfishing” (p 144). Imagine that.

Confessional: Mark Kurlansky prompted me to Google/YouTube the song “Saltfish” by Mighty Sparrow. I learned something new!

Author fact: Kurlansky has experience working on commercial fishing boats. Cool.

Book trivia: the physical book is one of those “feels good to hold” books and it includes great photographs & illustrations.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust and Book Lust To Go. In the chapter “Mark Kurlansky: Too Good To Miss” (p 141) in Book Lust and again in the chapter “Newfoundland” (p 154) in Book Lust To Go.


October

This should be my favorite month because I’ve been so deeply tied to Just ‘Cause (think pink) and I love, love, love Halloween. But, all I can think about is the run. Here are the books, by the way!

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan 
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman 
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis 
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz 
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat 
  18. In Xanadu by William Dalrymple
  19. The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  20. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose
  21. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
  22. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London
  23. Alma Mater by P.F Kluge
  24. Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy
  25. Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  26. Good Life by Ben Bradlee
  27. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  28. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban
  29. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
  30. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan
  31. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  32. Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  35. Walden by Henry David Throreau
  36. Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft
  37. Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon
  38. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle
  39. Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur
  40. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe
  41. Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
  42. Broom of the System by David Wallace
  43. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  44. Little Follies by Eric Kraft
  45. Literary Murder by Batya Gur
  46. Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker
  47. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  48. Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery
  49. Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder
  50. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson
  51. Royal Flash by George Fraser
  52. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur
  53. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  54. ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine 
  55. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan
  56. Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft
  57. Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
  58. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur
  59. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser
  60. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma
  61. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge
  62. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
  63. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  64. Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser
  65. What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft
  66. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
  67. Ruby by Cynthia Bond
  68. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan
  69. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
  70. Murder Duet by Batya Gur
  71. Flashman in the Great Game – George MacDonald Fraser
  72. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft
  73. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme
  74. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc
  75. Grifters by Jim Thompson
  76. Snow Angels by James Thompson
  77. So Many Roads: the life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne
  78. Short story: Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman
  79. Short Story: Hagalund by Laura Furman
  80. Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin
  81. Not so Short story: The Last of Mr. Norris by Christopher Isherwood
  82. short story: Jack Landers is My Friend by Daniel Stolar
  83. short story: Marriage Lessons by Daniel Stolar
  84. Light in August by William Faulkner
  85. Not so Short story: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  86. A Comedy & A Tragedy by Travis Hugh Culley
  87. Feed Zone by Biju Thomas
  88. Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft
  89. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser
  90. In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan by John DeFrancis
  91. Faster! by James Gleick
  92. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
  93. ADDED: Families and Survivors by Alice Adams
  94. Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft
  95. Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
  96. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser
  97. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett
  98. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  99. Petty by Warren Zanes
  100. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  101. Homicide by David Simon
  102. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (AB)
  103. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett
  104. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser
  105. ADDED: A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez (ER)
  106. ADDED: Crows Over a Wheatfield by Paula Sharp
  107. ADDED: Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Ancient Mammals from Montana to Mongolia by Michael Novacek
  108. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  109. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  110. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  111. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = E-Book


Runner’s World Cookbook

Golub, Joanna Sayago and Deena Kastor. Runner’s World Cookbook: 150 Ultimate Recipes for Fueling Up and Slimming Down – While Enjoying Every Bite. Rodale Books, 2013.

Can I tell you how much I loved this cookbook? When it was due back at the owning library I didn’t want to give it up! It took everything I had not to renew it again and again. Everything about the book was gorgeous, from the food to the photography. This is one book I am definitely going to buy for myself had to buy for myself.

As someone who is starting to take running a little more seriously (as in serious enough to train for something longer than a 13.1 miler), I needed a little help with the other parts of (ahem) training. Stuff like strength training and yoga was the start (and oh so helpful), but I needed even more than that and that’s where nutrition came in. I had heard a great deal about the Runner’s World cookbook thanks to magazines like Running for Women. Finally, I borrowed it from a library and was not disappointed. The recipes are yummy and I have lost 12 pounds. So get out there and eat!


Banana Berry Smoothies

Larrew, Brekka Hervey. Banana Berry Smoothies and Other Breakfast Recipes (fun foods for cool cooks). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2008.

Reason read: always, always on the hunt for ways to make me & myself eat breakfast.

So. This turned out to be a cookbook for young adults. I say young “adult” because there are sharp knives, frying oil and a hot stove involved. Kids definitely need to be supervised while following the recipes if they are under the age of 8 or 9 years old. True to its title, the first recipe is a banana berry smoothie. It then moves on to other typical treats like muffins and pancakes. I thought the entire was well laid out and incredibly cute. It even had a little index. I liked the photographs of the tools needed for each recipe and the trivia facts were fun, too. Did you know Pancake Day is on Shrove Tuesday?

Author fact: Brekka is a stay-at-home mom.

Book trivia: even adults can use these recipes if they are anything like me and have trouble being inspired to eat breakfast!


Nero Wolfe Cookbook

Stout, Rex. The Nero Wolfe Cookbook. New York: Viking Press, 1973.

This is one of those cookbooks I would call “unique” just because it isn’t just a bunch of recipes with a common theme. This cookbook is for the diehard Nero Wolfe fans who really want to submerge themselves in his world. It’s a great concept. I don’t know how many readers actually tried to cook these meals, but they are real, honest-to-goodness recipes, albeit with weird ingredients like kummel, kirschwasser, sauterne, and pig livers. There is a whole chapter on just corn (note to self: try the roasting of corn in their husks instead of the traditional steaming). Throughout the recipes are little snippets of Wolfe’s unique relationship with food. I found it interesting that he can’t stand to have hungry visitors, even if those same visitors are thought to be suspects. Of course, it isn’t Nero doing all the cooking. He has his trusted cook, Fritz Brenner for that.

Reason read: Rex Stout was born in December. This was a quick “read” for the end of the month.

Author fact: According to the author info in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, Stout had a passion for hotdogs. Okay.

Book trivia: I will admit 100% that I have read this at the wrong time. Having only read one Nero Wolfe mystery thus far (Fer-de-Lance) these recipes meant nothing to me. What saved me from quitting saving this for later were the quotations from the books in reference to each recipe.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Rex Stout: Too Good To Miss” (p 226).


Joy of Cooking

Rombauer, Irma and Marion Rombauer Becker. Joy of Cooking. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1964.

This red and white thick-bound book was a staple of my mother’s kitchen when I was growing up. It sat on a kitchen shelf in my childhood home. It sits there still. It is even more grease stained, dog-eared and much worse for wear (I think I started the degradation when I took a crayon to it when I was two); yet my mother would never dream of getting rid of it or updating it for a newer, shinier or cleaner edition. Her reason? This is the ultimate cookbook for every occasion, every season and every reason. The dirtier the page, the more well-loved the recipe. With Rombauer and Becker you simply can’t go wrong. On ever page there is a wealth of information from entertaining to grilling. From setting the table to eating lobster. Soup to nuts as they would say. Even though the methods are a little dated and the illustrations are a little cheesy it’s a classic. I love the extensive knowledge about the foods we eat, the foods we heat, the foods we keep…My favorite has always been the place setting illustrations.

Reason read: My birthday (last Saturday) always brings about a sort of reminiscing about childhood and this was definitely something that tugged at the heartstrings of my childhood.

Author fact: Marion Rombauer Becker no longer had her mother by her side when she revised and reorganized the 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking.

Book trivia: Originally copyrighted in 1931 Joy of Cooking saw at least 35 reprintings. Couldn’t they have figured out after the, say, twentieth reprint that the thing was a hit and that they should reprint a whole mess of them all at once? Surely there could have been an exception to the rule!

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 600s” (p). Interestingly enough Nancy Pearl made a point to say she wasn’t talking about the most recent edition of Joy of Cooking but doesn’t explain why. She does make special note of the recipes for oatmeal cookies with orange peel and baked macaroni and cheese.


Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee

Craughwell, Thomas J. Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Heming Introduced French Cuisine to America. Quirk Books, 2012.

How I would love to step back in time and follow Thomas Jefferson around! I just find him to be such an interesting character. I definitely agree that he is the most cerebral of our founding fathers. Despite Benjamin Franklin’s eye for invention I find  that Thomas Jefferson was more downright curious. He wanted to learn all that he could about the world around him.

But, enough of that. Onto the book review: This was a disappointment. I honestly expected the subject matter to match the title of the book on several different points. For starters, the obvious one – food (specifically bringing French cuisine to America). I didn’t see enough supporting evidence to believe that it was Thomas Jefferson who actually introduced the cuisine to America. Only a small handful of recipes prove that recipes like macaroni and cheese were introduced. Then there is the subject of James Heming. James Heming might have been the one who did all the work – taking the culinary classes, practicing the recipes at Jefferson’s elaborate dinner parties, and training the next cook to take his place so that he might experience freedom, but it is on Jefferson Craughwell focuses the most. Even then the focus isn’t primarily on his bringing French cuisine to America, it was on everything else.

 


Fast Food Nation

Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: the Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001.

When I first realized Fast Food Nation was on my Lust list I had but one burning question. I wondered if my own personal opinions about fast food establishments would be altered after reading Schlosser’s book. As a rule I don’t eat fast food, so if the answer ending up being yes, how then would my opinions be altered? Was it possible I would turn against my previous dietary sensibilities and try a Big Mac? I will readily admit I am two-faced and biased when it comes to “fast” food. Subway and Chipotles are considered “fast” establishments and yet I don’t put them in the same swamp as McD, BK or Wendy. I guess that’s because you can’t technically drive through Subway or Chipotle. You can’t order and eat without ever getting out of your car the way you can with the clown, the king and the kid.

From the very first chapter of Fast Food Nation I felt as though I had been slapped upside the head with a whole bunch of really disturbing facts about the country in which I reside. Schlosser doesn’t leave a single aspect of the fast food industry untouched or without scrutiny. To use a bad pun, he devours it all and then spits it back out. At us. From the historical humble beginnings of the hot dog cart to the corporate conglomerates of tomorrow Schlosser covers it all. It’s fascinating and yet distracting. Fast food Nation took too long to read because I kept rereading passages out loud to anyone who would listen.

Best thing I learned: Malling is a verb. To mall is to cover this great nation of ours with shopping malls. What’s that Natalie Merchant lyric about sprawling concrete? You get the point.

Wake up moments: “The whole experience if buying fast food has become so routine, so thoroughly unexceptional and mundane, that it is not taken for granted, like brushing your teeth or stopping for a read light” (p 3). Obviously Mr Schlosser hasn’t driven in my neck of the woods. Who stops for a red light?
Another wake up moment from the same page, “A nation’s diet can be more revealing than its art or literature” (p 3).

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Guilt Inducing Books” (p 112). Read in April because April is national food month.