I don’t usually dedicate entire posts to books I’ve read, but in this case the book is about the very things this site is, food and writing, so that warrants an exception, I say.
Best Food Writing 2009 is exactly what the title suggests: a compilation of last year’s best food-centric stories, as published in magazines like Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, The New Yorker and Saveur; as well as Web sites like Chow.com and eGullet.org. I finished my review copy last weekend, in the air somewhere between Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina, and I have to tell you: I was sad it had to end.
See, what’s so great about collections like this one, which was edited by Holly Hughes and features work by big-name authors like Calvin Trillin, Ruth Reichl and Frank Bruni alongside essays from new-to-me-but-no-less-gifted writers like Jason Sheehan (newly of Seattle Weekly and formerly of Denver’s Westword), Francine Prose (a celebrated novelist) and Todd Kliman (a James Beard award-winning restaurant critic and Dining Editor of The Washingtonian), is it gives you tastes of so many different writing styles (journalistic, personal, probing, funny) that all have one chief thing in common: a skilled command of language and information that makes you think, whether about the ethics of meat or the community of sitting around the table.
Before my plane landed in Tampa Friday afternoon (where it would be a balmy 74 degrees!), I did a lot of thinking about the last time I’d touched down in the Sunshine State, back when I was an unhappy freshman, and about how strange our life paths are, with mine taking me from Illinois to Florida to Wisconsin and to Illinois again, and how here I was nine years later, wanting to be in Florida for the weekend when before, I had wanted to be anywhere else.
My friend Elizabeth picked me up at the airport. We had lived together in Unit G—the bed bug unit—and reconnected only recently, through Facebook, drawn into deeper correspondence through, well to be totally honest, this blog, and she lives in the same town as one of my roommates from that college in Wisconsin I ended up transferring to, a roommate who also likes to cook, isn’t that crazy?
Over our fast weekend, we did simple things like eat Thai food at Elizabeth’s favorite hole-in-the-wall place, where I tried Pad Thai for the first time (and loved it):
and grabbed breakfast at a bagel place (twice!) where Elizabeth and her family know the people by name, that’s how much they love it (that curly-haired girl is her daughter—gorgeous!):
and, the highlight of the whole weekend, attended the kumquat festival in Dade City, all because I saw it online and thought it was just crazy enough to be fun, which it was, even with the rain that hit us after about 45 minutes there: