Summer reading should be pleasant fare. Though I had found perverse comfort earlier this season in Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror-- the wars and epidemics of our own century seem paltry when compared to the Hundred Years' War and Bubonic Plague of the 14th-- I felt that, just perhaps, I should read something slightly more upbeat; something that didn't cause me to frequently check myself for lice, fleas or imaginary buboes. Something fun. Something food-related.
I was saved from reading MFK Fisher's The Art of Eating for the 17th time when Ian Jackman's Eat This: 1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet fell into my hot --and mercifully plague-free-- little hands.
Jackman spent two years writing about and several more eating his way through farmers markets, hot dog stands, panaderias and testicle festivals-- and any place else that serves up food in this country. The result is an entertaining, mind-blowing catalogue of regional American food traditions and obsessions.
Eat This satisfies my criteria for pleasant fare-- something I can pick up and put down, jumping from chapter to chapter without getting lost. Though not a comprehensive work (which is impossible be given the expanse of this country, so don't cry about the omission of scuppernongs), it is a work of astonishing breadth, fascinating food facts and inspiration for many a future food hajj.