Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Review for Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan is a funny guy. Known for his standup routines, he often includes commentary on food. So what are his qualifications to write a book on the subject? Nothing, really, unless you count the admission that he’s a little fat.
Like a pound of crispy bacon the book is deliciously satisfying. Gaffigan explores why we love food, what we love, and how much more of it can we stuff into our pie holes without falling into a coma. He covers the whole gamut of eating from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to regional cuisine, fast food, fine dining, the intricacies of airport cuisines and, oh, that hated kale.

The chapters are short and read more like an expanded collection of essays. If you have ever listened to his comedy routine, some will be familiar. I didn’t find the book less enjoyable for that as it contained plenty of new material and some more background added to the old. For those who are familiar with Gaffigan’s act, his standup includes a memorable bit on Hot Pockets that launched him to comedy circuit stardom. My favorite observation is that Hot Pockets always comes in a box of two; one to eat and regret and the other to leave in the freezer until you move. As Gaffigan says, “I’ve never eaten a Hot Pocket and then afterward thought, I’m glad I ate that. In the book he offers not just more funny riffs on Hot Pockets, but also explains how he developed the routine. He accepts its popularity as a blessing and a curse, admitting if he were to keel over today his obituary would, no doubt, describe him as the Hot Pockets’ comedian.

He expounds on our quirky eating habits around the country with the Jim Gaffigan Food Map. It’s not exactly Rand McNally, but it works. Regions are divided into areas such as Seabugland (pretty much all of the East Coast), Eating BBQland (Southeast/Parts of Midwest), Mexicanfoodland (Southwest to Texas), Coffeeland (Pacific Northwest) and others. My favorite is New Orleans as Food Anxietyland. Gaffigan admits to an angst that comes over him every time he steps into the city. Where should he eat? What should he eat? The decisions are endless. Should he go for French, Cajun, Creole, beignets? I feel your pain, bro. I, too, have agonized between a po’boy and muffaletta and ended up getting both. 

The book is great fun and loaded with pictures of his wife and family. Frankly any man with five kids deserves props for that alone. Despite his adventures in junkfoodland the Gaffigan’s sound like a very healthy, loving bunch. I’d share a meal with them anytime


Excerpt from Food: A Love Story

People are nicer in the South. They are. Even when they are rude they are polite. Maybe it’s the singsong of the southern drawl, but even a “Y’all can go to hell” from a Southerner sounds friendly. “Well, thank you kindly. Y’all can go to hell, too. An’ y’all come back now, y’hear?” People in the South are nicer, but they are slower. I don’t mean they are slower intellectually, I mean they just move slower.

FIREMAN: You have to get out! Your house is on fire!

SOUTHERN GUY: All right. All right. I’ll leave. But first I have to drink me some sweet tea. Then I’ll deal with that pesky house fire.

 Biscuits and Gravy

I think I’ve identified why people in the South behave in such a nonchalant manner. It’s the biscuits and gravy. Everyone in the South seems to move like they’ve just had two helpings of biscuits and gravy. They are moving like you might after Thanksgiving dinner. You know when you are uncomfortably full but pleasantly satisfied as you drag yourself over to the couch for a nap. That is how everyone below the Mason-Dixon Line moves in everyday life. I really believe it’s the biscuits and gravy. The feeling you have after eating biscuits and gravy is identical to the feeling of chaining a bowling ball to your foot.
More amazingly, people in the South are eating biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Yes, breakfast. They aren’t coming home drunk late at night slurring, “I’ll eat anything.” They are waking up thinking, Time for cement!


 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


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