The Table Comes First

Adam Gopnik

The Table Comes First

Modern society is very particular about what constitutes good food: local, seasonal, organic produce that doesn't overly impact on the environment. But throughout history every generation has believed that it alone knows the true value of food, and looked with distaste on the culinary practices of its predecessors. Not so long ago eating food from around the world was the mark of the cultural sophisticate. In The Table Comes First Adam Gopnik envisions a new 'physiology of taste' which will enable us to dispense with this moralising attitude and concentrate on the pleasure principle: food is to be enjoyed, and to help us enjoy life in turn. 3.3 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
The Table Comes First

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Food & Drink
Format Hardback
Pages 304
RRP £18.99
Date of Publication September 2011
ISBN 978-1849162869
Publisher Quercus
 

Modern society is very particular about what constitutes good food: local, seasonal, organic produce that doesn't overly impact on the environment. But throughout history every generation has believed that it alone knows the true value of food, and looked with distaste on the culinary practices of its predecessors. Not so long ago eating food from around the world was the mark of the cultural sophisticate. In The Table Comes First Adam Gopnik envisions a new 'physiology of taste' which will enable us to dispense with this moralising attitude and concentrate on the pleasure principle: food is to be enjoyed, and to help us enjoy life in turn.

Reviews

The Guardian

Kathryn Hughes

His writing here is a high-glazed wonder, as if just the right amount of calf's foot jelly had been dropped into the final mix to make each colour sing out that little bit more strongly. But whether there is an argument to hang on to is not so clear. This is not, for all the cultural name-dropping (apparently Gopnik's mum once made a soufflé for Derrida) a work of philosophical enquiry. It is actually an extended piece of journalism in that fine New Yorker tradition, and all the more pleasurable for it.

15/10/2011

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The New Yorker

William Skidelsky

At their best, these essays blend enormous erudition with great elegance of expression, and pack intellectual firepower too … He suggests that there are just two schools of good food writing: the "mock-heroic" and the "mystical microcosmic". The former is comic and "treats the small ambitions of the eater as though they were big and noble", while the latter is "essentially poetic, and turns every remembered recipe into a meditation on hunger". The one flaw in this otherwise cast-iron theory is that it doesn't accommodate its own promulgator. He can be self-mocking, and often he writes poetically, but he is too versatile, too intellectually wide-ranging, to fit comfortably into either camp.

24/10/2011

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The Sunday Telegraph

Ed Cumming

The writing is light and bright throughout, the learning deep but informal. In particular, the passages of reportage are brilliant, and it’s a shame that they are sometimes fogged by the attempts at philosophy.

18/10/2011

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The Times

Iain Finlayson

He possesses the happy knack of combining intellectual curiosity with a quotidian interest in humanity and writes with intelligence, wit and grace about culinary quiddities and contradictions.

15/10/2011

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The Economist

The Economist

Despite the subtitle, it is not really about family life, nor about the French. It is above all about Mr Gopnik and his passionate, under-the-fingernails love of food … Like a béchamel sauce, [this book] is sometimes smooth, but occasionally lumpy. In short, an uneven feast flavoured with tasty morsels.

22/10/2011

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