Best Food Writing 2016
edited by Holly Hughes
(Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2016)
Book review by Kristina Sepetys
For anyone who enjoys food writing, this 300-page paperback is one of the leading publications of the year. For 17 years, Holly Hughes has compiled an annual best-of, a robust mix of top pieces from the food writing world. Hughes has combed through magazines and newspapers, scanned websites and blogs, and foraged in bookstores to select pieces that highlight trends, document the particulars of everyday meals, and open a window on the lives of chefs and the people who eat their food. Taken together, the stories offer up an insightful reflection on the food culture zeitgeist, from the earnest to the odd.
The volume often features East Bay writers, and this year is no exception. Oakland resident John Birdsall contributes an amusing reflection from Bon Appétit titled “Brooklyn is Everywhere,” exploring the ways in which hipster artisan food culture is no longer the sole purview of well-known U.S. urban enclaves, but can be found from Tulsa to Chiang Mai. From food writer Dianne Jacob, “The Meaning of Mangoes,” which appeared in Lucky Peach, describes the pleasures of rediscovering some of her family’s former life in Shanghai in a crate of mangoes. Blogger and Food52 writer Phyllis Grant rallied her two children for a cookbook cook-off. The results are described in “Zahav vs. The Food Lab,” pitting Israeli home cooking against the careful, scientific approach of J. Kenji López-Alt in The Food Lab. Luke Tsai, the restaurant critic for the East Bay Express, describes a failed visit to an exclusive underground Chinese restaurant in the El Cerrito hills in “How to Dupe a ‘Moderately Ok’ Food Critic.” Dozens of other articles covering a range of subjects make for a thought-provoking, entertaining, moving, and informative collection.
Panel Discussion at Omnivore Books on Food
Longtime editor Holly Hughes will moderate a panel of Bay Area contributors with a signing to follow. Local writers taking part include Phyllis Grant, Michael Procopio, John Birdsall, Jessica Battilana, and Rachel Levin.
Book Panel with Bay Area Contributors
Omnivore Books on Food
Tuesday December 6, 6:30-7:30pm
3885a Cesar Chavez St, San Francisco