Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet (Modern Library Food)

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9780679642503: Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet (Modern Library Food)
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As Gourmet magazine celebrates its sixtieth anniversary, Modern Library Food series editor and bestselling author Ruth Reichl has compiled an enchanting compendium of food and travel essays from the magazine’s extensive archives. Spanning time and place, the writers showcased in Endless Feasts share their memories of exquisite meals and experiences in far-flung locales. Featured are essays such as M.F.K. Fisher’s marvelous “Three Swiss Inns,” about three exceptional restaurants she encountered while traveling through Switzerland. In the most out-of-the-way gasthaus, she finds trout swimming in a seemingly decorative tank, but in the flash of an eye the fish are scooped up in a net and carted off to the kitchen, to appear minutes later cooked to such delicate lightness and tender perfection that one could never hope to duplicate it. Ruth Harkness’s “In a Tibetan Lamasery” is the story of her travels as a single woman exploring Tibet during the Second World War. She describes her crumbling accommodations, the unusual animals caught by hunters, and the estimated ten thousand dollars’ worth of rare pheasants she ate during one winter.

Complete with a new Introduction by Reichl and a sampling of original recipes, this savory collection contains essays by Anita Loos, James Beard, Madhur Jaffrey, Robert P. Coffin, Laurie Colwin, and many others. Sure to become a classic, Endless Feasts is comprised of beautifully rendered stories and descriptions of wonderful food in the most interesting and unlikely places.

Contributors to Endless Feasts include:
James Beard / Cooking with James Beard: Pasta
Ray Bradbury / Dandelion Wine
Robert P. Coffin / Night of Lobster
Laurie Colwin / A Harried Cook’s Guide to Some Fast Food
Pat Conroy / The Romance of Umbria
Elizabeth David / Edouard de Pomiane
M.F.K. Fisher / Three Swiss Inns
Ruth Harkness / In a Tibetan Lamasery
Madhur Jaffrey / An Indian Reminiscence
Anita Loos / Cocktail Parties of the Twenties
George Plimpton / I, Bon Vivant, Who, Me?
E. Annie Proulx / The Garlic War
Claudia Roden / The Arabian Picnic
Jane and Michael Stern / Two for the Road: Havana, North Dakota
Paul Theroux / All Aboard! Crossing the Rockies in Style

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Review:

Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet, part of the Modern Library Food series, is a fascinating compendium of Gourmet magazine food and travel pieces spanning six decades--a collection that mirrors our dining habits over the years but is timeless in its underlying theme: we are what we eat. The assembled cast is tops: James Beard on pasta; Elizabeth David lauding epicure Edouard de Pomaine; M.F.K. Fisher on her favorite Swiss inns; Paul Theroux writing about crossing the Rockies; Anita Loos evoking cocktail parties of the 1920s. Compiled by Gourmet editor-in-chief (and series editor) Ruth Reichl, and with recipes from the contributors' pieces--including hobotee, North Carolina's famed meat custard, and Katherine Hepburn's brownies--the book will delight armchair and meal-chasing foodies alike.

Most readers will discover new voices among the more familiar. Present, as noted, is M.F.K. Fisher, offering one of her most splendid sun-and-shadow portraits, but there's also the underread (and magnificently dry) Ruth Harkness providing glimpses of a World War II winter spent in a crumbling Tibetan Lamasery, where she devoured $10,000 worth of rare pheasants; the drolly avuncular Joseph Wechsburg on Austria's legendary patisserie, Demel's ("the loudest sound you hear there is the breaking of crisp strudel dough"); crusty Maine poet Robert P. Coffin on Down East breakfasts and lobstering ("a night like a night of marriage"); and the reportorial, unblinking Jay Jacobs on Beard himself ("the man remembers in minute detail every one of the eighty-seven-thousand-odd meals he has eaten since his birth"). The quality of the essays varies, of course, but the book overwhelmingly gladdens in its rich breadth of time and place and evocative storytelling. --Arthur Boehm

From the Back Cover:

“Endless Feasts is just a little snack, a sample tidbit of the many riches still hidden in the archives of [Gourmet] magazine. American food is a constantly changing representation of who we are, and what you will find in these pages is an ongoing history of our national adventures at the table.”
—from the Introduction by Ruth Reichl

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