America the Edible by Adam Richman, Man Vs. Food

I have been reading America the Edible: A Hungry History From Sea to Shining Sea, written by the Man VS. Food: Adam Richman. I wasn’t sure what I would be reading about at first and was surprised to find that the book is more of a personal journal and documents Richman’s memories traveling around to various cities in the United States that all hold a special place in his heart. When you watch Richman on television, he just seems to be a happy, go-lucky kind of guy and when you read his book you realize that you don’t really know him very well.

America the Edible tells of times when Richman wasn’t a television star and of times, but when he was just trying to make it in the world like everybody else. Adam Richman has always been a foodie at heart and has kept food journals for years.  Food became Richman’s companion against all the challenges of life, including finding a career, love, and success. The book makes it clear that Richman knows much about the food industry and food history as he shares some of his knowledge throughout the book. My favorite chapters in his book are about Los Angeles and San Francisco, places that I can personally identify with and I think many readers will also share this perspective while reading Richman’s secret food diaries that are now compiled into this book. Unfortunately, this can also make some chapters with places less familiar somewhat uninteresting to read and make skipping chapters easy to do. Another issue in America the Edible occurs at times when the writing will go into a sensory overload that can sometimes become overzealous and turned me off while reading certain portions of chapters.

Overall, America the Edible is an interesting read but not quite what I hoped for. The book has plenty of useful tips and locations worth scouting out and trying. Richman’s die-hard fans will enjoy his anecdotes of romantic dining dates and career struggles that brought him to where he is today.

In Search of The Perfect Meal

I recently re-activated my public library card. Perusing the aisles I found Anthony Bourdain’s book A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal. I’ve seen it on many websites and decided to check it out. Right now I’m on the second chapter called “Back to the Beach”, Bourdains trip back to his hometown in France and finds that almost nothing remains the same of how it once was. The first chapter where Bourdain recounts a trip in Portugal was interesting. I have never known much about Portugese cuisine and his chapter on his viewing of a pig festival intrigued me. Bourdain’s writing style is very personal, I feel like he’s sitting right next to me telling me his stories as I read. The way he describes things is vivid enough so that you can visualize what he describes. I’ll post my thoughts here and there as I keep reading his book. I’ve requested his other books as well as Adam Richman’s America the Edible. Looking forward to these reads.

One quote I particularly like from Bourdain’s book so far is “Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life”.

What makes a perfect meal? It’s something most food critics probably try to envision each time they have a meal and start writing a review. Quality service is something everyone can appreciate, but atmosphere is important too. Sometimes that whole in the wall restaurant is filled with local flavor that can’t be imitated. Memories are important too. No doubt, no place can replace the first sushi restaurant where I had my first sushi roll ever in my head. It’s a strong memory that enhances an experience the next time I visit. The people you spend your time eating with matters as well.  Is the person you are with a Debbie Downer or a good friend who you haven’t seen in years? There are so many factors to consider…

What makes the perfect meal to you?