- Where the fuck have you been?
- With the exception of the AOL offering, which is somehow even more mind-numbing than your average recipe blog, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Some excellent sites have been fulfilling this function (among others) for years.
- Someone has to tell us what to consume.
And it is now the season for people to tell us what books to buy. It is a sign of something, if only my tumescing irrelevance, that I do not seem to have read a single new book this year (last year, I did find two good ones). A few have potential (someone should send this to those "whole" food people), but, on the whole, meh.
So this is an excellent moment to introduce my new feature:
Old books made new
If Leite is correct that 456 fewer cooking and food books were published this year than last, you see the problem. In the entire history of the world, 456 food books worth reading have not yet been written. The laws of thermodynamics thus dictate the following axiom: the more recently a book has been published, the more likely it is to be a piece of shit.
Of course, it is still technically possible to write a good book. Ruhlman, may, for example, have finally superseded Grigson. The point is that for most of the last 36 years, the book you should have been reading was out of print. The probability is that this is true of anything you want to read about. So: buy old books.
Animal to Edible (pb still in print) is an excellent example: undoubtedly the finest anthropology of the abattoir ever written. It is true that this is because it is the only such book ever written, but that is another reason you should read it. The approach is (appropriately) a fascinating relic of pre-poststructural theory -- you turn each page expecting Levi-Straussian diagrams of offal. But this fear is a necessary companion on your voyage: unravelling the manifold symbolic operations required to transform a living animal into the object of your digestion.
Animal to Edible's origins in a thèse are obvious from its occasional repetition and aimlessleness, but it is mostly short and clear. A more conclusive conclusion would have been nice. It's not going to show you the way out of the meatrix, but it will teach you how to think about leaving.
Tune in next week for this year's must-have casettes.