Title: Alice, Let's Eat
Author: Calvin Trillin
Alice is Trillin's wife, muse, eating and travel companion and tempering influence. She is an essential character in Trillin's food writing, a willing accomplice to his adventures most of the time. She is also clearly the more responsible of the couple, warning her husband against his tendency to binge.
The subject matter of this second book is much the same as the first. Trillin favors high quality down home fare to what is billed as the more sophisticated cuisine of fancy restaurants. He sums up his tastes thusly: "For years I have gone around the United States assuming that good food is available if the careful traveler sticks to regional specialties and the cooking of ethnic groups strong enough to have at least two aldermen."
In this volume, Trillin sings the praises of latkes in London, country ham in Kentucky and shellfish pretty much anywhere. We join him for adventures in London markets, Vermont game dinners and Pennsylvania Dutch Country. He shares his fantasy of guiding the late Chairman Mao on a mad-sprint food tour of New York City. As ever, his two favorite food destinations are New Orleans and his hometown of Kansas City. He is decidedly less impressed by Omaha.
Humor is the book's strongest selling point. Out loud chuckles are frequent. I am curious as to how much the restaurant world has changed since the book was published in 1978. I know that ethnic cuisine is more varied and widespread. There is not a single mention of Thai food, for instance, which is practically ubiquitous now. I would like to think quality has improved apace but can't say for sure. I expect I'll be tackling the third book of the trilogy - Third Helpings - soon.
Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past month. This month's link list is below. I'll keep it open until the end of the day. I'll post March's tomorrow. Meetings are the last Friday of each month. Next gathering is March 25th.