Sunday, March 15, 2009

Review: Fork It Over by Alan Richman

This is a collection of columns previously written by Richman for GQ and other sources about his life as a professional eater and restaurant reviewer. The columns have been arranged into a menu of sorts: amuse-bouche, appetizers, palate cleanser, entrees, palate cleanser, sides, cheese, palate cleanser, wine, and gratuity. Richman is well written and funny and the columns pleased this readers palate. Of course, I do generally enjoy the literary equivalent of what we here sometimes call "food porn" but I think this is of interest to most people. It isn't too specialized or restaurant-centric so that only those who have eaten at the place in question will enjoy the associations Richman makes as he travels from the nostalgia of his mother's kitchen to the palate stirring pleasures of a gourmet meal. One of my favorite comedic bits in the book comes from one of the palate cleansers, Ten Commandments For Diners and headed "5. Pass on the Omelette Station." It reads: "You're on vacation, ready to splurge. That means the hotel's $39.95 Sunday buffet brunch. There's salmon, sushi, crab claws, shrimp, and eggs Benedict. You head straight for the omelette station, where a guy in a Hawaiian shirt who has never been to cooking school is making fluffy four-egg omelets with scallions, peppers, Bac'Os, and a grated cheese product. Nice going. You've just filled up on an egg dish that costs $3.99 at Denny's." After you stop giggling, you recognize that the man really is correct. (And I felt inordinately glad I hate eggs so I knew without doubt I've never fallen into that brunch pitfall.) Good fun, this was well worth the read.

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