Synopses & Reviews
In the 1950s, America was a land of overdone roast beef and canned green beans—a gastronomic wasteland. Most restaurants relied on frozen, second-rate ingredients and served bogus "Continental" cuisine. Authentic French, Italian, and Chinese foods were virtually unknown. There was no such thing as food criticism at the time, and no such thing as a restaurant critic. Cooking at home wasn't thought of as a source of pleasure. Guests didn't chat around the kitchen. Professional equipment and cookware were used only in restaurants. One man changed all that.
From the bestselling author of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse comes the first biography of the passionate gastronome and troubled genius who became the most powerful force in the history of American food—the founding father of the American food revolution. From his first day in 1957 as the food editor of the New York Times, Craig Claiborne was going to take his readers where they had never been before. Claiborne extolled the pleasures of exotic cuisines from all around the world, and with his inspiration, restaurants of every ethnicity blossomed. So many things we take for granted now were introduced to us by Claiborne—crème fraîche, arugula, balsamic vinegar, the Cuisinart, chef's knives, even the salad spinner.
He would give Julia Child her first major book review. He brought Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers, Paul Prudhomme, and Jacques Pépin to national acclaim. His $4,000 dinner for two in Paris was a front-page story in the Times and scandalized the world. And while he defended the true French nouvelle cuisine against bastardization, he also reveled in a well-made stew or a good hot dog. He made home cooks into stars—Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Diana Kennedy, and many others. And Claiborne made dinner an event—whether dining out, delighting your friends, or simply cooking for your family. His own dinner parties were legendary.
Claiborne was the perfect Mississippi gentleman, but his inner life was one of conflict and self-doubt. Constrained by his position to mask his sexuality, he was imprisoned in solitude, never able to find a stable and lasting love. Through Thomas McNamee's painstaking research and eloquent storytelling, The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat unfolds a history that is largely unknown and also tells the full, deep story of a great man who until now has never been truly known at all.
"America in the 1950s was a country that put little focus on fine cooking in the home. In fact, there seemed to be little focus put on fine dining whatsoever, until the New York Times christened its first-ever food critic. Dick Hill narrates this riveting audio edition of the biography of that critic, Craig Claiborne, a man who guided and influenced cooks nationwide. The tone of Hill's reading is slightly snooty, like that of a gourmet stuck in a fast-food restaurant, studying each french fry for perfection as he attempts to educate the masses on how a civilized society should eat. For any other audio title, this tonal choice would sound arrogant and condescending, but in McNamee's work it enhances the author's prose and provides for flavorful listening. Hill is smart enough to firmly plant tongue-in-cheek and play to his audience, while never distancing himself from listeners. An enjoyable audiobook that will leave you hungry for more. A Free Press hardcover. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"McNamee deftly explores the glittering public life and far-reaching contributions Claiborne made to America's food culture, as well as his troubled personal life. A highly readable, well-researched narrative chronicling America's boring culinary past and the one man who altered its course forever." ---Kirkus
From the bestselling author of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse comes the first biography of Craig Claiborne, the passionate gastronome and troubled genius who became the most powerful force in the history of American food—the founding father of the American food revolution.
About the Author
Thomas McNamee studied writing at Yale under the tutelage of Robert Penn Warren. He is the author of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, The Return of the Wolf to Yellowstone, A Story of Deep Delight, Nature First, and The Grizzly Bear. Thomas's essays, poems, and natural history writing have been published in Audubon, the New Yorker, Life, Natural History, High Country News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Saveur, and a number of literary journals. He wrote the documentary film Alexander Calder, which received both a George W. Peabody Award and an Emmy. Thomas lives in San Francisco. Reader of over four hundred audiobooks, Dick Hill has won three coveted Audie Awards and been nominated numerous times. He is also the recipient of several AudioFile Earphones Awards. AudioFile includes Dick on their prestigious list of Golden Voices.