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Food & Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast

Food & Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast celebrates seven years of the dazzling writing and delicious recipes of Tin House magazine’s Readable Feast and Blithe Spirits departments. Literature and gastronomy converge in an idiosyncratic survey of everything from lotus fruit, elk, and absinthe to bread, eggs, and brandy Old-Fashioneds. Ranging from the humorous to the lyrical, the historic to the personal, and humble to haute cuisine, this elegant collection includes pieces by writers such as Steve Almond, Lan Samantha Chang, Lydia Davis, Chris Offutt, Grace Paley, Francine Prose, Elissa Schappell, and Michelle Wildgen.

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  • Page Count: 314
  • Direct Price: $13.50
  • List Price: $16.95
  • 5 1/4 x 7 1/4
  • Trade Paper
  • November 2006
  • 0-9773127-7-1
Format Price

Price as Configured $0.00

Michelle Wildgen is the author of the novel You’re Not You (St. Martin’s/Dunne). She is a senior editor at Tin House magazine, where she edits the Readable Feast and Blithe Spirits departments, and an editor at Tin House Books. Her writing has appeared in Best New American Voices 2004, Best Food Writing 2004, the anthology Death by Pad Thai, the journals StoryQuarterly, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Small Spiral Notebook, and elsewhere.

“These essays are pure fun, pure joy, every last honey-colored, 80-proof, diet-be-damned one of them.”
—Debbie Vankin, The Los Angeles Times


"Foodies who like to read have had an abundant year: They’ve been able to sink their teeth into the likes of David Kamp’s The United States of Arugula, Julia Child’s My Life in France and, of course, Bill Buford’s Heat. Those books are great at capturing food trends and superchefs, but they don’t have the personal touch or accessibility of Food & Booze, a collection of 25 pieces harvested from the literary journal Tin House, in which a group of mostly superb authors reflect on the pleasures of cooking, drinking and sitting down to eat."
—Kelly McMasters, Time Out New York


"Tin House magazine contributor Wildgen collects essays on apples and odes to martinis. In the provocatively titled "Up Your Goose with a Boneless Duck," Chris Offutt describes an unusual dish he wanted to prepare for "a grand autumn feast" in Missoula, Mont. In "The End of Laughter," Lan Samantha Chang recalls meals with an unnamed friend: "We ate for love, for sympathy and fun. We ate out of confusion and emptiness and lust. We ate our meals in public and kept our true hungers a secret." Essays are supplemented with recipes for, among others, Steve's Ultimate Maple Crunch Chicken Salad, Eggs with Mushrooms and Truffles, Khoresht Bademjan and Oxtail Soup with Porcini Mushrooms...the collection is a gourmand-worthy spread."
Publishers Weekly


“This strange, dark, proudly literate collection is a triumph of unapologetic debauchery—after so much prudish, hothouse food writing, Food & Booze is as refreshing as an ice-cold Tin House Martini.”
—Julie Powell, author of Julie & Julia


“I opened this neat little volume intending to read about solid, square meals, but then I found myself getting blitzed on absinthe cocktails in Portugal with Elissa Schappell, downing shots of mezcal in a Oaxacan cantina with Mark Statman, and cruising around in Sara Roahen’s family car sipping huge travel mugs of brandy and 7-Up (what are these people thinking?). So I can only tell you that the booze half of the book is a blast. And now I’d like to lie down for a while, if you don’t mind.”
—Pete Wells, Food & Wine columnist and winner of five James Beard Awards for writing on food and drink

 

"Though I have a few more food-filled memoirs in a heap beside me, I shall pass over them and move on to Food and Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast, a collection of 23 essays on food and drink by various writers. Among them is Matthew Batt's very funny account of making sourdough bread according to the dictatorial precepts of Nancy Silverton, a tour de force that conflates baking with child-bearing and -rearing. 'The Path of Righteousness' begins with Batt following Silverton's minute instructions and making sourdough starter from decomposing grapes. After that he moves on to her recipe, 'which is all micromanagement and brutish condescension.' For a while he feels very much put upon by being made to 'weigh and measure and clean and fuss over everything like I'm running a fertility clinic.' But after the course of a summer and 300 pounds of flour, he finds not only that he can bake excellent bread, but that his entire life revolves around it—though fortunately not at book length."
—Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe

Contents


Foreword  /  MICHELLE WILDGEN............................................................7

 

Food  /  GRACE PALEY.........................................................................12

 

Ode to a Martini  /  ELISSA SCHAPPELL....................................................14

 

My Soul Upon the Grill   STEVE ALMOND.................................................37

 

Notes from the Nauseous   /  CARLA SPARTOS.............................................47

 

Dinner with the Borgias  /  LISA GROSSMAN...............................................55

 

The Lotus Eaters  /  JEFF KOEHLER.........................................................71

 

Becherovka  /  FRANCINE PROSE.............................................................84

 

The Apple of Their Eyes  /  SARA PERRY....................................................91

 

Ode to an Egg  /  MICHELLE WILDGEN....................................................108

 

Here’s to Crime!   /  DAVID LEHMAN......................................................120

 

Yellowtail  /  STUART DYBEK...............................................................131

 

Mezcal  / MARK STATMAN...................................................................140

 

The Path of Righteousness  /   MATTHEW BATT..........................................149

 

The Green Fairy  /   ELISSA SCHAPPELL...................................................166

 

Persian Cuisine  /   SHUSHA GUPPY........................................................181

 

My Life with Sukiyaki  /  ANTHONY SWOFFORD..........................................202 


Rummy   /  A. J. RATHBUN..................................................................213

 

Beating the Heat  /   RICH KING...........................................................223

 

Drinking My Inheritance  /  SARA ROAHEN...............................................232

 

A Season in Elk Country    LYNNE SAMPSON............................................243

 

Up Your Goose with a Boneless Duck  /   CHRISOFFUTT................................267

 

The End of Laughter  /   LAN SAMANTHA CHANG.......................................286  

 

In a Crowded Kitchen  /  HEATHER HARTLEY.............................................294

The Path of Righteousness


Matthew Batt

 

There are three schools of thought on contemporary bread. The first says that baking is Fun and Easy!and all you need is one of those handy-dandy Donco Magic Bread Machines and an index finger and you’ll have fresh bread coming out of your shorts by morning. These people are not bakers. They are simply pressers of buttons and they are an abomination. The second school of bread-thought says that making bread is like getting in touch with the Great Baker of the Universe, who kneaded our souls from sweet, sweet bulgur wheat. These people are not so much bakers as baked. The third school says, Baking is freaking hard. It is not sexy. It is not fun. You will not get your own cooking show, not even a chef’s coat. Baking exists somewhere between art, science, and alchemy, and unless you are willing to dedicate a significant portion of your life to it—let’s say your days and your nights for starters—don’t bother.

 

This is what you need to begin:

 

1. A pound of flour

 

2. A pound of seedless grapes.

 

3. 16 fluid ounces of water

 

Crush the grapes. Stir. Wait two weeks.


Taste it. Smell it. Touch it. It should eventually take on the color and consistency of pancake batter, but it’s OK initially if it seems like gym socks steeped in rancid milk. It’s alive.

 

My friend’s father used to make bread from scratch every week, and as a kid she used to love to watch him knead the dough, the kitchen dusty and illuminated with flour. I didn’t have such an easy orientation to fathers. My adoptive father is dead; my biological father is observing strict radio silence; and my grandfather—the only consistent father figure of my life—has been wallowing in woman trouble ever since my grandmother died. As for me, my wife and I are getting to that point in time when we either start trying to have a baby or get the pipes capped off. Instead of making a decision, I started to bake.