Omnivore - A food snob's guide to advanced snobbery

On Slate today, Sara Dickerman does an impressive job of compiling a list of useful books for educating your inner (or, usually, outer) food snob. The article names many books that are great references, as well as many that have given me much of my food education.

But reading the article also made me a tad uncomfortable. Or perhaps the feeling is guilt. Because while I've done my share of reading food books, there are always more than I can get to. In fact, I can barely write this, as my desk is teetering on the edge of engulfment by all the food books I have yet to read. And I've come to a slightly embarrassing conclusion: I like eating food much better than I like reading about it. When I do read about it, I like the writing to be experiential, and often I don't want an entire book, just a few hundred words about how things taste and how they make you feel. All this high-minded encyclopedic food academia kind of takes the fun out of it. It's like claiming to be a sex enthusiast and then spending all your time reading up on gynecology.

Don't get me wrong — I am all for the study of foodways. Sometimes wonkish topics, such as exactly how and when New World foods influenced Old World cuisine, can get me pretty excited. But I just feel as though there's such an overload, and it's correct that when people write about this overload they are usually talking about it in terms of food snobbery.

It was a great personal relief to me, at the beginning of this year, when I gave myself permission to go back to my original literary love, the novel. For the time being, I've given up on food books, making exceptions when something seems truly fascinating or if I feel I need to read a book for work reasons. I spend my extra time gained from giving up all this forced reading lounging around with a novel. Or, um, cooking. Or eating expensive cheese and drinking cheap wine. When it comes to food love, I am much more a sensualist than an academic.

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