The latest in a number of food-related books I’ve been reading, “The Man Who Ate Everything” is really more of a compendium than a narrative. Steingarten is the food writer for Vogue magazine, and this book consists of selected essays he’s written over the years.
Each piece tackles a specific type or aspect or culture of food. Japanese food, Acme Bread, the perfect American-style pie crust, Choucrute Alsacienne, and the origin of “back of the box” recipes are all fair game.
A wonderful thing about Steingarten’s writing style is that he does quite a lot of research into the origins of things and how cooking techniques work. This results in myriad interesting factoids scattered throughout.
Many chapters include a recipe or two, although it would have been helpful if there was an index to them in either end of the book. There is a general index, however.
From the first chapter, which describes how he systematically set out to overcome his food phobias (try everything ten times) to the last (the search for the perfect American pie crust recipe) , I enjoyed this book immensely.
I now have a newfound respect for Steingarten, who I knew previously only from his stint as a judge on the Iron Chef America TV show. He clearly loves food and writes clearly and engagingly. I look forward to reading his other works.