Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review: 'Food: A Love Story' by Jim Gaffigan

Genuine(ly funny)

In an overfed country, it might be difficult to get enough distance and perspective to make fun of our food obsession. For Jim Gaffigan it is as easy as rolling out of bed at the crack of noon. He has divided the country into food clich├ęs, coffee in the northwest, cheese in the Midwest, seafood in the northeast, and attacked with gusto and green chiles. And cheese. Always cheese. Cheese is the highest form of edible in Creation. The rest of the book is devoted to comfort foods and purveyors of them. The worse the better. The research for this book alone would have killed me.

Gaffigan has packed this book with wonderful takeaways I don’t want to forget. My faves:
-I try to stick to three meals a day and then another three at night. 
-I like to think coffee comes from beans; therefore it’s a vegetable.
-You know what would be good on this hamburger? A ham sandwich.
-Doctor (to patient who drinks KFC gravy straight): I have your cholesterol levels here … Okay, you’re aware your blood is not moving?
-Going to the gym for an hour is the American way of fasting.
-Based on the appearance of the hippo, it is surprising it is not indigenous to the Midwest.
-Maybe Canadian explorers made it to Alaska and saw the Eskimos eating blubber and thought: “Oh, the Americans already got here.”
-I don’t know much about grammar, but I think kale salad is what they call a double negative. (Compare to cheesecake, a double positive.)

Food – A Love Story is peppered, if that is the right word, with photos of the Gaffigans, eating, everything, everywhere. There is just one recipe, an excruciatingly detailed and tortured procedure for preparing a hot dog.

There has been a rash of collections like these, many of them crossovers from internet blogs to print. At 341 pages, this is twice the size of most of them, and an order of magnitude above them all, in its conception, its construction, and the genuine laughs it engenders. It is clear Jim Gaffigan did not get tired of writing this book. It goes from peak to peak. The pacing is relentless.

When anthropologists look back to determine how America declined and fell, Food – A Love Story will be a key reference work.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of David Wineberg. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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