I’ve said it before and I will no doubt repeat myself in the future: I love Food Writing. Good authors writing about food is some of the best vicarious living through reading that you can experience. When that author also makes you laugh out loud quite frequently, that’s some good food writing.
American Fried: Adventures of a Happy Eater is the first book in Calvin Trillin’s “Tummy Trilogy” and is a collection of his articles and essays in various magazines in the 1970s. Trillin isn’t much of a cook himself, so he mostly writes about eating out, and this book takes you to restaurants all across America.
Despite being written in the 70s, and the fact that many of the establishments mentioned have doubtlessly changed or closed, the collection still feels timeless. There is one funny part that can be best summarized by the line “I admit to having been intrigued by the idea of storing restaurant information in a computer.”
I definitely recommend this collection, and can’t wait to begin the second book in the trilogy: Alice, Let’s Eat.
Here are some of the lines that made me laugh:
The other New York newsletter I have seen, The Craig Claiborne Journal, devotes more space to recipes than to restaurants, and is therefore of less use to me, since my cooking skill does not extend past a special way of preparing scrambled eggs so that they always stick to the pan. (page 78)
New York line behavior can be explained only by assuming that just about everyone in the line believes himself to be in possession of what the Wall Street people call inside information. (page 96)
He was not going to be able to meet me until a few hours after I arrived in Cincinnati, but he suggested on the phone that for my first taste of authentic Cincinnati chili, at lunch, I might want to try the unadorned product and therefore should start with what is known locally as “a bowl of plain.” He had no way of knowing, of course, that I have never eaten the unadorned version of anything in my life and that I once threatened to place a Denver counterman under citizen’s arrest for leaving the mayonnaise off my California burger. (page 129)
Fairs are good places to eat, particularly for stand-up eaters – which is one of the kinds of eaters I am, although when I eat standing up away from home I sometimes miss the familiar cool breeze coming from the open refrigerator. (page 185)
Buster’s fried chicken tastes as if it is made from chickens that have spent their entire pampered lives strolling around the barnyard pecking contentedly at huge cloves of garlic. (page 213-214)