In his chapter on Williamsburg artisan food makers, Kuh starts to fall into the “ugh hipsters” trap and dismiss a bar’s row of empty growlers as for decor rather than use before realizing it was he who was acting pretentious.
This was nearly impossible to read due to pretentiousness and dilettantism and I’m the type of person to use the word dilettante. I have a high tolerance for pretension but this was ridiculous; the author flits from subject to subject without regard for narrative theme or cohesion, and writes like every word out of his pen is gold.
The only unifying theme is food, and how it is being reclaimed by bakers, farmers, and vendors, all of which sounds significantly more interesting than the book I read. I love reading about food. I love reading about flavors. I don’t particularly love reading about how two different pickle manufacturers in New York refused distribution offers, particularly when Kuh jumps around – jump isn’t even the word, that implies clear delineation, he SLIDES around – so much that I didn’t realize we weren’t talking about two distinct pickle makers at first. Threads are continuously picked up only to trail off aimlessly – I still don’t know what happened in a artisan promoting country time lemonade or why or how it came up, because it never gets resolved.
Some of those tangents are at least fun. Reading about looking for mustard seeds to get out of the pot to keep pickles kosher during batch changes? Interesting! Reading about Zingerman’s deli blending local, imported, and mass produced goods in pursuit of only the best flavor? Awesome! Their spawning the chalkboard sign craze and creating its own front from the signs? Cool! Reading paragraphs about how the owners worked at a restaurant together and then left with zero input on how it impacted zingermans? Boring as hell.
And while reading about fruit foraging for food donations was awesome, what about it is artisanal craft?
I’m angry at this book. Negative four stars.