This week we're taking a closer look at Powell's Pick of the Month Hungry by Jeff Gordinier.
You don’t have to be an adventurous eater, a travel junkie, or a memoir lover to get tantalized by Hungry
, food journalist Jeff Gordinier’s gripping account of journeying through Mexico, Denmark, and Australia with Noma chef René Redzepi. Just sit back and enjoy this feast of the senses. — Lucinda G.
It would take a generous reader to follow Jeff Gordinier’s extraordinary years-long journey through the marketplaces and Michelin-starred kitchens of Mexico, Australia, and Scandinavia with Noma chef René Redzepi and not exclaim at some point, That lucky bastard!
The life splashed across the pages of Gordinier’s compelling travelogue/biography boasts the same glamor, sexy grit, and inaccessibility of The Selby
or one of those Bon Appétit
dinner party spreads featuring real couples: So many beautiful people having wild, beautiful experiences; one wonders enviously where they come from, how they fund it all, and if all of their friends and family are so attractive, or if the ugly ones have been told the party’s on a different day.
While Gordinier, Redzepi, and the many superstar chefs they fish, forage, and dine with in Hungry
would be the last to call themselves sexy or glamorous (gritty they might allow), Gordinier’s perceptive character portraits and loving, colorful reports of the chefs’ conversations and enthusiasms — a manic Redzepi crazed by the abundance of a Mexican market is particularly delightful — depict an elite group of intense artists for whom food is everything. Gordinier is not in their ranks, but his curiosity about what makes a chef like Redzepi tick, and his own devotion to food and rapturous engagement with eating, make him an ideal translator of what goes on in the mind of someone who takes a basket of sea urchins and pine cones and produces edible art that, in Gordinier’s words, is comparable to “‘that secret chord’ that Leonard Cohen wrote about in ‘Hallelujah.’”
It’s plain that Gordinier reveled in his access to Redzepi and the rarified world of haute cuisine, but his enthusiasm for the project is infectious, and before you know it, you’re 100 pages into Mexico and fully committed to Redzepi’s ceaselessly shifting vision for Noma’s challenging menu. Most of us will never eat at Noma or join a culinary Who’s Who team foraging in the jungle for ant eggs, but Hungry
, like The Selby, or Bon Appétit
, or any excellent periodical committed to people living for art, transmutes envy into awe. It is a pleasure to spend a few hours with the inventive, anxious, and singular Redzepi and his global entourage of eaters; one might even be forgiven for saying that Hungry
is a delicious read.
Check out the rest of our Picks of the Month here