Holiday Cookbook Roundup
The Food Snob's Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Gastronomical Knowledgeby David Kamp and Marion Rosenfeld
Broadway, 144 pp., $12.95 (paper)
Whether you consider yourself a card- (or organic-carrot-) carrying foodie or simply find yourself suffering the company of the same, this comprehensive and entertaining dictionary cleverly compiles and defines the terminology that frequents today's conversations and menus. It can be perplexing enough to try to decipher live-fire grilling from barbecue. And could it possibly matter? That decision Kamp and Rosenfeld leave to the reader; they only serve to give readers the tools to discern the difference and to use the knowledge for edification or ammunition. After all, even those of us who spend a good deal of time thinking about food and meals believe the lexicon has gotten just a wee bit pretentious if not out-and-out precious. The delights of a thirst-quenching bottle of water is all but killed when we're lectured that it comes from chalk hills of Hampshire and has a crisp mouthfeel that made it a favorite of Thomas Keller. It's a glass of water, for cryin' out loud! But you'll be able to throw this tidbit of Anglophile snobbery about Hildon still water in the face of the next self-proclaimed gourmet, armed with knowledge gleaned in the dictionary. You may not find yourself needing to know the names for different dices or cooking techniques, but the virtues of grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef is something most carnivores can appreciate in theory and in practice. Kamp is the author of The United States of Arugula, another book that looks at the rise of American food snobbery, and as such, it's an area he knows well. He also really enjoys good food, and as a result, the book is never snarky, just teasing as it educates.