The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation - David Kamp I finally finished this book. I took to calling this book "the evil food book" and vowed that were it not on my Kindle, it would have been thrown across the room multiple times over the 10 days it took to slog through the irksome volume.

I picked this book out for a reading challenge, thinking I would enjoy it. I knew from the preface that I was going to hate it, and in the end, I was not wrong. I find the idea of the book interesting; the title piqued my interest. The text itself only served to anger me. I am not a chef; I do not consider myself a foodie; I am not a snobbish diner or shopper; I do not demand locally-grown produce; I despise the use of the word "organic" in connection with any foodstuff - if food were not organic, that is, a carbon based chemical/life form, it would be rocks; food, with the sole exception of table salt, is organic by its very nature. But my rage against the overuse and misunderstanding of the meaning of the word organic is neither here nor there for this book. I did not like the author's tone that food is only good if it is derived from France though the creations of famous California or New York chefs. I do not like the idea that the only good food to come from my hometown came at the hands of Paul Prudhomme and/or Emeril Lagasse. I did not like the idea that if food is fancy and expensive, it is automatically better than simply prepared reasonably priced meals. In short, I did not like this book.

I cannot recommend this book to anyone. It only reinforces stereotypes that exist in far too many pseudo-foodies today -- the ones who think anything done by celebrity chefs at much-publicized restaurants is far better than anything done by a no-name cook at a small unknown hole-in-the-wall neighborhood eatery. It reinforces the idea that New York, California, and Las Vegas innovations are automatically wonderful, while anything coming from anywhere else is not worthy of being served to stray dogs. It feeds the likes of Master Chef, Top Chef and Next Food Network Star Chef-testants who don't know enough to know that fresh pineapple will prevent gelatin from setting or that it is near impossible to whip cream in the ubiquitous food processor. It feeds the notion that "gourmet" is a substitute for "good taste" and that celebrity "expensive" is better than honest "good."

I cannot even say I am glad to have read this book. One the whole I would have been a much happier person ignorant of this author's annoying opinions on what constitutes a good, gourmet meal in America today. Is there any way I can, having suffered through this book, now "un-read" it?