I've been known to watch Iron Chef America on occasion, and I've always appreciated the brutal honesty of regular judge Jeffrey Steingarten. When they introduce him at the beginning of the show, they always mention his book, The Man Who Ate Everything, so I finally got around to reading it. It was hilarious, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys cooking or eating.
I love how it looks like he even ate the book cover!
He begins the book with a quest to rid himself of his (quite common) food phobias. He claims to hate Kimchi, anchovies, Greek food, anything with dill, and lots of other very normal things to hate. By what he calls exposure (and what I would call force feeding) he manages to conquer all of his food phobias and even grows to like some of those foods. I thought it would be fun to make a short list of some of my food phobias (believe me I could go on for a long time.)
1. Sushi- The texture, the seaweed, and worst of all the raw fish
2. Clams, Oysters, Scallops- For some reason, things that come in a seashell scare me. They are chewy, and there is almost always sand involved. (Except I love clam chowder.)
3. Raw meat (particularly chicken) - I'll eat it when it's cooked, but when it's raw, it grosses me out.
4. Tomatoes- I love salsa and ketchup, but put a slice of tomato in front of me and I just can't bring it to my mouth.
5. Mayonnaise- I could gag just thinking about trying to eat it. I always joked about having a Fear Factor for picky eaters, well I would be the one crying over eating a spoonful of mayo. If something has mayo in it, just don't tell me, and I'll probably like it.
Mr. Steingarten is very thorough (obsessive) in all of his food research. He spends months making bread into the wee hours of the night; he probably went though a thousand potatoes trying to perfect the preparation of mashing; and I'm sure he baked a hundred pies in search of a flawless crust. When he puts his mind to something, he buys two or three of the necessary equipment, all the cookbooks he can find, and lots and lots of ingredients. After reading his book, I have no doubt that he can call himself a food expert.
He reminded me of Brett at times, always doubting the latest study. Steingarten spent several chapters debunking diets, misconceptions about sugar, salt, and alcohol, and even exploring the hazards of salad. I suppose I can conclude that, in moderation, everything is ok. Of course Steingarten doesn't seem to know the meaning of moderation.
The best part was that I laughed through the entire book! If you're in need of a laugh, read The Man Who Ate Everything. (You just might learn something too.)