Readers of Bookdwarf will know that I love good food writing. With the boom in celebrity chefs, the Food Network, and food bloggers taking obsessive pictures of the latest hot restaurant, came food-related memoirs. They span a wide berth of writing skill–and interest–from insider’s account of the restuarant Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential to Julie Powell’s navel-gazing Julie and Julia to Gabrielle Hamilton’s soulful Blood, Bones, and Butter, anyone connected to food realizes the potential in writing a book proposal if they have even a remote connection to food. I could name a slew of titles that scream “I did it for the money and notoriety,” with mediocre prose. The worst actually make reading about food boring. I’ll refrain from naming names.
One of the writers I do like is Dana Goodyear, often published in The New Yorker. She’s written about varied subjects from James Cameron to an illuminating article on the chefs at Animal in Los Angeles, which was included in The Best Food Writing 2010. I was definitely pleased to hear that she has a book coming from Riverhead this fall called Anything that Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture, which purports to be a cross between Mary Roach and Anthony Bourdain. It features new and collected essays on how the far corners of the food world influence the center, from the art of eating odd animal bits to raw milk.
I think she’s a fine writer and always enjoy reading her essays when they appear. I particularly liked her piece on Jonathan Goldman and her foray into the exotic meat movement. But as a cohesive narrative, the book doesn’t really hold together for me. It really would be better presented as a set of essays than as a comprehensive investigation of a specific trend in food.