Ho-ho-ho! Happy holidays to all, and to all a good read.
Book 1: The Third Plate by Dan Barber
It’s Santa, writing. Wee Barry Estabrook is preoccupied with putting together a new book proposal, so Santa has picked up his quill to help him out (and lighten Santa’s sleigh) by dashing off a few words about Santa’s favorite books of food journalism for 2014—all dandy gifts for the food lovers on your list.
The image consultants insist that Santa maintains the physique of a fat, jolly, old elf, so it should come as no surprise that he takes food ve-r-r-r-r-r-y seriously. And because Santa expects to be embarking on his annual sleigh ride for many more millennia, it should also come as no surprise that he has a vested interest in the long-term sustainability of our food system.
Which brings Santa to the first book on Santa’s list. (Always fair-minded, Santa will proceed in alphabetical order by author.)
Aptly subtitled Field Notes on the Future of Food, Young Dan Barber’s The Third Plate makes a perfect gift for the deeply thoughtful eaters on your list, the ones who gobbled up Michael Pollan’s Onmivore’s Dilemma when it came out. In fact, Santa will go so far as to say that The Third Plate is the most important book to come out about our food system since Pollan’s seminal work.
Dan, of course, is the James-Beard-Award-Winning chef-owner of the two Blue Hill restaurants in the New York City area. His cooking is earthy, imaginative, intellectual, sometimes playful, and always interesting, yet he never lets diners forget that his culinary tours de force begin in some nearby barnyard. The same could be said of his writing.
It seems a little unfair that such a talented chef writes as well as he cooks, but those of us who are unable to make it to a Blue Hill should be delighted we have the opportunity devour Dan’s masterful prose, and contemplate a food future beyond today’s platitudes of seasonal and local.
Santa has more recommendations in his bag. He’ll be back with another book tomorrow.