Book Reviews

The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire
by Gaylord Brewer

The Banquet of Donny & Ari: Scenes from the Opera
by Naomi Guttman

Cooked
by Michael Pollan

Revenge Baking
by Randon Billings Noble

Biting the Apple
by Jeanie Greensfelder

Best Food Writing 2014
edited by Holly Hughes

Creamy and Crunchy
by Jon Krampner

Biting through the Skin
by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Feeding Orchids to Slugs
by Ann Mah

Mastering the Art of French Eating
by Florencia Clifford

Ivan Ramen
by Ivan Ramen

Third Thursday Potluck Cookbook
by Nancy Vienneau

Mint Tea & Minarets
by Kitty Morse

Prospero’s Kitchen
by Diana Farr Louis and June Marino

Mushroom: A Global History
by Cynthia Bertelsen

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukuoka

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie
by Peggy Wolff

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

unrest
by Chloe Yelena Miller

The Hungry Ear
by Kevin Young

Best Food Writing 2012
by Holly Hughes

Dinner: a Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

My Kitchen Wars
by Betty Fussell

American Cookery
by Laura Kalpakian

Apron Anxiety
by Alyssa Shelasky

Cucina Povera
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin

The Social Life of Coffee
by Brian Cowan

The Raw and the Cooked
by Jim Harrison

Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet

Horsemen of the Esophagus
by Jason Fagone

Coffee Philosophy for Everyone
by Scott F. Parker and Michael W. Austin

Corked
by Kathryn Borel

Food Rules
by Michael Pollan

On Reading
by Rilke and Ruskin

America the Edible
by Adam Richman

Interview with the author of Party Girls,
Diane Goodman

Death Warmed Over
by Lisa Rogak

How to Cook a Crocodile
by Bonnie Lee Black

Great Food,
All Day Long

by Maya Angelou

Love Bites: Marital Skirmishes in the Kitchen
by Christopher Hirst

Best Food Writing 2011
edited by Holly Hughes

Balzac's Omelette
by Anka Muhlstein

The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker

Muffins and Mayhem
by Suzanne Beecher

As Always, Julia:
The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto

More...

Boozehound
by Jason Wilson

The Particular Sadness
of Lemon Cake

by Aimee Bender

The Bluberry Years
by Jim Minick

Livingston and the Tomato
by A. W. Livingston

Tomatoland
by Barry Estabrook

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey
by Robert V. Camuto

Best Food Writing 2010 edited
by Holly Hughes

Curry
by Lizzie Collingham

Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg

The Physiology
of Taste

by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Far Flung
and Well Fed

by R. W. Apple, Jr.

The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky

The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball

Ratio
by Michael Ruhlman

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
by Jessica Theroux

Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton

Candyfreak
by Steve Almond

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
by Alice B. Toklas

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

Appetite City
by William Grimes

Twain's Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman

Born Round
by Frank Bruni

Cakewalk
by Kate Moses

Full English by
Tom Parker Bowles

Following Fish by
Samanth Subramanian

Eating Animals by
Jonathan Safran Foer

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese
by Eric LeMay

For You, Mom. Finally
by Ruth Reichl

Farm City
by Novella Carpenter

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

I ♥ Macarons
by Hisako Ogita

The Hamburger
by Josh Ozersky

Best Food Writing 2009 edited
by Holly Hughes

Gastrology
by Archestratos

Eat, Memory edited by Amanda Hesser

Eat My Globe
by Simon Majumdar

Eating
by Jason Epstein

What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison

The Sweet Life
in Paris

by David Lebovitz

Modern Spice
by Monica Bhide


Reviews

 

REVIEW by Leigh Cuen

Great Food, All Day Long
by Maya Angelou
Random House, December 2010
Hardcover, 176 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1400068449

Maya Angelou taught me how to be a woman. I had just reached the final cusp of my teens when I picked up my first fix from the library. Then I couldn’t stop. I was ripping through volumes of poetry and groundbreaking memoirs known for having expanded the genre itself. Angelou wrote with irreproachable dignity about society’s underbelly—rape, drugs, prostitution, discrimination, poverty, confusion, and broken truths. She spoke of attack without being a victim, and of her own youthful mistakes while still sounding sharp and wily. Her memoirs told the story of a single soul with a fleet of talents. She was a dancer, a cook, an outlaw, a mother and a poet. Her writings paved the way for American women of color to command ownership of their own narratives, in print and in the public eye. Her syntax and courage taught me that confronting exploitation and prejudice is how a girl can become a woman, victorious and uncorrupted despite the broken system.

So it’s no surprise that Angelou’s latest cookbook, her second, is brimming with lyrical reflections on her struggles with portion control and health. In Great Food, All Day Long, Angelou combines her saucy wit with the recipes and food philosophies she has accumulated throughout her lifetime. Predominately defined by Latin and Southern tastes, her recipes are wildly flavorful, as are the short autobiographical stories of her encounters with these foods.

Even while preaching the importance of nutritious food, Angelou gives her take on the pretension that often accompanies conscious eating habits. She shares a snarky poem in defense of carnivores, inspired by attitudes encountered at a trendy Los Angeles restaurant.

The Health-Food Diner

No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw & spinach raw
Today I need a steak.
Not thick brown rice & rice pilau
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed & parsnips hashed.
I'm dreaming of a roast.
Health-food folks around the world are thinned by anxious zeal.
They look for help in seafood kelp.
I count on breaded veal.
No smoking signs, raw mustard greens, zucchini by the ton.
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run.
Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown & fresh ground round
I crave them all the time.
Irish stews & boiled corn beef.
And hot dogs by the scores,
Or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.
After this, she describes her love affair with vegetables and the recipes that leave her mesmerized by eggplant. Great Food, All Day Long is a book flavored with irony and reflection. The recipes are marked by quick cooking proverbs about the virtues of portion control, timing, and how to be a good chef and hostess. As she does in her first cookbook, Hallelujah! the Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes, Angelou shows a talent for genre blending. She shares a heartwarming poem about soup alongside her favorite soup recipes. She includes a spectrum of tastes, from puchero and corn bread to pears in port wine. Her introspective explorations of healthy appetite, fulfillment, and taste leave a reader simultaneously satisfied and salivating. She adamantly encourages the creative use of leftovers and listening to the body rather than the clock for meal times—tricks she has learned by “the delicious age of eighty-one.” Her mischievous voice, whether instructional or lyrical, takes me back like an old song on the radio. I love how familiar the rhythm of her words feel on the page.

Angelou manages to squeeze a diversity of recipes and insights into a mere 150 pages, Great Food, All Day Long is short and sweet, a mouthful that is timeless and savory.

February 4, 2012