These are a few of my favorite things…
Sorry. At least you didn’t have to hear me in person.
Anyway, our newest feature here on the site, “When Smoked Sausage Gets in Your Eyes,” about writer Sara Reistad-Long’s experience learning how to make sausage at a Ukranian butcher shop, got me thinking. (Coincidentally, the shop, Kurowycky Meat Products, is just a block from my apartment — I recommend the Krakiwska, a garlicky ham sausage, which goes great in scrambled eggs with a little cheddar, some chives and oh god now I’m hungry.)
Specifically, it got me thinking about the book I just finished, Heat, by Bill Buford, a writer and former editor at the New Yorker. It was supposed to be out a couple years ago, and became almost mythic for being so delayed, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth the wait. Foodie memoirs are hot these days, but this one is particularly good - a writer decides to see what it’s like to become a cook in the kitchen of celebrity chef Mario Batali, and then discovers that there’s a lot more to it - like, oh, the whole history of food. So it’s off to Italy to learn how to make pasta, work with a real Tuscan butcher and find the roots of all the food he’s cooking. It’s an example of what is, in my mind at least, the best kind of memoir writing: about the author, yes, but ultimately with the author as foil for a much deeper discussion.