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Monday, July 16, 2012

Obscure Gastronomic Book Corner!

Posted by Chris Onstad on Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 9:59 AM

The volumes in question.
  • The volumes in question.

Patrick Alan Coleman, who filled these shoes before me, left for Colorado in April. Before he crunched off across the plains in his U-haul and red-breasted morning suit, he recommended a rare duo of gastronomic tomes. "Pick up Knife, Fork, & Spoon: Eating Around the World, by Charles H. Baker, Jr.," he said, over a melted patty at Dot's one morning. "There's a companion volume, Jigger, Beaker, & Glass: Drinking Around the World. He was one of the world's greatest food adventurers, and if you like Wodehouse as much as you're always screaming at everyone who will roll down their car windows and listen, this is the guy for you."

For my birthday in June I received reprints of this 1946 publication, and immediately my vocabulary was peppered with fillips, canary, and liquorsome slang for sack. Punchy descriptions of traditional rijstaffel, the Indonesian rice feast, jostle for attention alongside anecdotes concerning Mississippi delta Calalou, and Baker's infectious prose sings through the pages and pages of complete, workable, exotic recipes. Taken together, the tomes are a dense and valuable slice of international food history as seen through the eyes of this Hemingway-esque bon vivant, so for those of you casting about for new titles after burning through Gordon Ramsay's latest toilet-warmer, this is the set for you.

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