Eat This!: 1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet

Overview

Ian Jackman believes that life is too short to deny yourself our nation's true culinary treasures. Guided by food experts throughout the land, he travels from east to west—from small town to big city—uncovering local treats, guilty pleasures, and some oddities that no true food lover should miss. From lobster rolls and buffalo meat to banana cream pies and clam stuffies, Jackman finds the sinful temptations your taste buds crave—and he writes about them in a way that's certain ...

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Eat This!

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Overview

Ian Jackman believes that life is too short to deny yourself our nation's true culinary treasures. Guided by food experts throughout the land, he travels from east to west—from small town to big city—uncovering local treats, guilty pleasures, and some oddities that no true food lover should miss. From lobster rolls and buffalo meat to banana cream pies and clam stuffies, Jackman finds the sinful temptations your taste buds crave—and he writes about them in a way that's certain to get any confirmed foodie salivating!

  • Where you can find the very best burgers in America
  • 21 varieties of apples you must try
  • Lamb fries—eat or avoid?
  • The country's primo pizza parlors
  • And more!

Escape the guilt and anxiety propagated by our puritanical, diet-obsessed society and indulge yourself with Eat This!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Jackman's compendium of American foods and foodstuffs is an informational tour-de-force, a guidebook suitable for everyone from the couch potato to the frequent flyer. In the interest of finding out where to get the best, whether it's organic produce or fast food, delivery or fine dining, the author has eaten widely if not always well. Wondered when your favorite ready-to-eat cereal hit the market? What a runza is? Where to go for your last meal on earth? Jackman, who was the managing director of the Modern Library and coauthor of Stickin', includes all the foods and facts, from coast to coast (and including Alaska and Hawaii). The book is organized about as well as something so wide-ranging can be without tilting into a work of reference. The first part, "Eating In," isn't a how-to-eat-better so much as a how-to-eat-the-best-possible. Its second, larger part, "Eating Out," might make one want to cash in an IRA and hit the road for a year or two to eat everything he's listed. Readers will soon find themselves flipping the pages from restaurant to dish, and that's when they'll start fingering their car keys-it's just the thing for the summer travel season. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060885908
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/3/2007
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Jackman is the author of numerous books, including The West Wing: The Official Companion and Eat This!: 1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet.

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Read an Excerpt

Eat This!
1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet

Chapter One

Fruit (Mostly)

We had an abundance of mangoes, papaias and bananas here, but the pride of the islands, the most delicious fruit known to men, cherimoya, was not in season. It has a soft pulp, like a pawpaw, and is eaten with a spoon.
—Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii (1866)

Route 25 winds through the farmland and vineyards of the North Fork of Long Island. By the side of the road in the village of Cutchogue sits the Wickham family farm stand, where the main attraction is the wonderful local fruit. If you stop there once during the high summer season, it's almost impossible to drive straight past ever again. As you approach, you'll start thinking about the extraordinary white and yellow peaches or the tiny Suffolk red grapes. You'll wonder what that morning's sweet corn is like. Then your mind will wander to one of the many varieties of tomato; then to the blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. By the time you're contemplating what's in the cheese locker today and you remember the homemade doughnuts, you've turned off the road and into the dusty parking lot.

The current custodians of the family business are Prudence Wickham and her husband, Dan Heston, along with Prudence's uncle Tom Wickham. Other family members share ownership, but these three live and work here. They're part of a very long line of Wickhams who have been farming this land since 1680. When Prudence talks about the land grab the family suffered after the Revolutionary War, she sounds like she's still miffed about it on her ancestors' behalf. More recentincursions from pillaging property developers have been fended off. The family has sold development rights to their land, mostly to the state and county, and it's good to think that the monstrous and ugly houses long a feature of the South Fork, and which are now cropping up to the north, won't be built on this bit of eastern Long Island at least.

This is the kind of place where you can feel close to the source of what you're eating. Directly behind the structure that houses the retail operation are the pick-your-own apple and peach trees. Buy some of the family's produce and talk to Prudence Wickham for a couple of minutes. She grew all the crops here, so she can tell you everything you could possibly ever think to ask about them, including their lineage and the history of the land they grow on. The location of the farmhouse has changed more than once. It's now situated down a lane that begins behind the stand and through the fruit trees. "You want to have a buffer between you and the rest of the community," says Prudence. "Everybody wants to live next to a farm, until they live next to a farm."

Cutchogue is situated on a narrow sliver of rich farmland between the abundant waters of Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound. Says Prudence, "It used to be that anyone who was farming out here was also working the water. When my great-grandfather was farming he did as much with the water as he did with the land. He did the farming in the summer; in the winter he was mostly working the bay and had one of the largest fleets of boats out here doing commercial fishing. That has changed because farming has specialized more and the knowledge required to put these crops out has increased. Farmers have been forced to make the decision: Are you going to go fishing or are you going to stick with the land?" The Wickhams decided to stay ashore, although nothing is far from the water in this part of the world—there's water on three sides of the farmland. The Wickhams own about 292 acres, but some of that is salt marsh, where food crops won't grow. After the Second World War there was an initiative to make the country self-sufficient in food. The Army Corps of Engineers helped design a system of dikes that drains when the tide is low and blocks the water when the tide is high. Priorities have changed since the forties. "Imagine messing around with the wetlands today," Prudence says. "Drying them up so you could farm. It's a whole different culture, and people's expectations are different. We're careful with them."

The location does have its benefits: water retains heat better than soil, so among other things, the buds of fruit trees and bushes don't freeze during cold snaps in the spring. The other factor is the sun—fruit needs a lot of sunlight to ripen, and Cutchogue officially gets more hours of sunshine than any other town in New York State; more than the sometimes fog-bound Hamptons, a few miles south. So the Wickhams are able to grow fruit you wouldn't expect to find this far north, like nectarines and apricots.

When the Long Island Railroad started running between the city of Brooklyn and Greenport in 1844, no one was growing nectarines in Cutchogue. Farming was concentrated on vegetables like Brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower. The farm also produced seeds, and at one time the Wickhams were the world's largest suppliers of cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts seeds. The railroad changed the farmers' focus from local markets to the big one in New York City. Today, if you take the first left from the farm stand, you'll find yourself on Depot Road, so called because there used to be a train stop there, with a storehouse to hold potatoes for shipment to New York. Prudence's father, Jack, remembers the building being in use when he was a teenager.

For years the business was strictly wholesale. Then the farm started producing peaches and plums. Initially the fruit was sold from the back of a truck, then from a skid that was pulled down to the roadside every morning and back up to the farmhouse at night. After the Second World War, Prudence's grandfather John Wickham was . . .

Eat This!
1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet
. Copyright © by Ian Jackman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Eat This!
1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet

Chapter One

Fruit (Mostly)

We had an abundance of mangoes, papaias and bananas here, but the pride of the islands, the most delicious fruit known to men, cherimoya, was not in season. It has a soft pulp, like a pawpaw, and is eaten with a spoon.
—Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii (1866)

Route 25 winds through the farmland and vineyards of the North Fork of Long Island. By the side of the road in the village of Cutchogue sits the Wickham family farm stand, where the main attraction is the wonderful local fruit. If you stop there once during the high summer season, it's almost impossible to drive straight past ever again. As you approach, you'll start thinking about the extraordinary white and yellow peaches or the tiny Suffolk red grapes. You'll wonder what that morning's sweet corn is like. Then your mind will wander to one of the many varieties of tomato; then to the blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. By the time you're contemplating what's in the cheese locker today and you remember the homemade doughnuts, you've turned off the road and into the dusty parking lot.

The current custodians of the family business are Prudence Wickham and her husband, Dan Heston, along with Prudence's uncle Tom Wickham. Other family members share ownership, but these three live and work here. They're part of a very long line of Wickhams who have been farming this land since 1680. When Prudence talks about the land grab the family suffered after the Revolutionary War, she sounds like she's still miffed about it on her ancestors' behalf. More recentincursions from pillaging property developers have been fended off. The family has sold development rights to their land, mostly to the state and county, and it's good to think that the monstrous and ugly houses long a feature of the South Fork, and which are now cropping up to the north, won't be built on this bit of eastern Long Island at least.

This is the kind of place where you can feel close to the source of what you're eating. Directly behind the structure that houses the retail operation are the pick-your-own apple and peach trees. Buy some of the family's produce and talk to Prudence Wickham for a couple of minutes. She grew all the crops here, so she can tell you everything you could possibly ever think to ask about them, including their lineage and the history of the land they grow on. The location of the farmhouse has changed more than once. It's now situated down a lane that begins behind the stand and through the fruit trees. "You want to have a buffer between you and the rest of the community," says Prudence. "Everybody wants to live next to a farm, until they live next to a farm."

Cutchogue is situated on a narrow sliver of rich farmland between the abundant waters of Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound. Says Prudence, "It used to be that anyone who was farming out here was also working the water. When my great-grandfather was farming he did as much with the water as he did with the land. He did the farming in the summer; in the winter he was mostly working the bay and had one of the largest fleets of boats out here doing commercial fishing. That has changed because farming has specialized more and the knowledge required to put these crops out has increased. Farmers have been forced to make the decision: Are you going to go fishing or are you going to stick with the land?" The Wickhams decided to stay ashore, although nothing is far from the water in this part of the world—there's water on three sides of the farmland. The Wickhams own about 292 acres, but some of that is salt marsh, where food crops won't grow. After the Second World War there was an initiative to make the country self-sufficient in food. The Army Corps of Engineers helped design a system of dikes that drains when the tide is low and blocks the water when the tide is high. Priorities have changed since the forties. "Imagine messing around with the wetlands today," Prudence says. "Drying them up so you could farm. It's a whole different culture, and people's expectations are different. We're careful with them."

The location does have its benefits: water retains heat better than soil, so among other things, the buds of fruit trees and bushes don't freeze during cold snaps in the spring. The other factor is the sun—fruit needs a lot of sunlight to ripen, and Cutchogue officially gets more hours of sunshine than any other town in New York State; more than the sometimes fog-bound Hamptons, a few miles south. So the Wickhams are able to grow fruit you wouldn't expect to find this far north, like nectarines and apricots.

When the Long Island Railroad started running between the city of Brooklyn and Greenport in 1844, no one was growing nectarines in Cutchogue. Farming was concentrated on vegetables like Brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower. The farm also produced seeds, and at one time the Wickhams were the world's largest suppliers of cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts seeds. The railroad changed the farmers' focus from local markets to the big one in New York City. Today, if you take the first left from the farm stand, you'll find yourself on Depot Road, so called because there used to be a train stop there, with a storehouse to hold potatoes for shipment to New York. Prudence's father, Jack, remembers the building being in use when he was a teenager.

For years the business was strictly wholesale. Then the farm started producing peaches and plums. Initially the fruit was sold from the back of a truck, then from a skid that was pulled down to the roadside every morning and back up to the farmhouse at night. After the Second World War, Prudence's grandfather John Wickham was . . .

Eat This!
1,001 Things to Eat Before You Diet
. Copyright © by Ian Jackman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Eat This! Travels across America looking for interesting food characterized neither by calorie count nor scientific or dietetic approbation, but taste. We should eat sensibly, of course. Not many foods are actually unhealthy—it is the over-indulgence in certain of them that degrades our well-being. Conversely, there are few things more stimulating and life-affirming than a fine meal eaten with abandon, or even a single serving of one dish that you love, whether it be a cheeseburger or a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie.

The best way to chase this great taste is to look for it locally. In the summer, a roadside farm stand will bring you wonderful produce that may well have been growing out in the field a couple of hours before. A white or yellow peach, an ear of corn, a slice of watermelon, a red-ripe tomato—these are foods that loudly speak of summer. Your local restaurants will take produce like this and craft meals based on the chef's experience. However modest the restaurant or the aspirations of the cook, it is establishments where the food is made with love and soul that taste shines through.

Many among the 1001 items in the book are regionally defined, or even regionally defining. A Philly cheese steak is an obvious example. Of all the great food available in New York City, a slice of thin-crust pizza might be the most iconic. But we also read about toasted ravioli and Prosperity sandwiches from St. Louis, the Runza from Nebraska, Cornish pasties that made their way from south-western England to Michigan, Kentucky Hot Brown sandwiches and more. Many dishes have standout local quirks—don't put ketchup on your dog in Chicago (or your burger in the nation's first burger joint, located in New Haven). Do put ketchup on your burger in Salt Lake City, but add mayonnaise to it and call it fry sauce.

Along the way, many questions are asked, and a few answered. Was the first hamburger actually put together in New Haven? Why is a lot of pizza cut into squares in St. Louis? Why is it that the only place you can't get a Coney Dog is Coney Island? How can you put together a genealogy from the kind of potato salad someone likes? And what is it with Utah and Jell-O?

Questions for Discussion

QUESTIONS:

1. Name three things you've never eaten that you want to try.

2. What is the most memorable thing you ever ate?

3. A lot of people are fiercely loyal to their city's or region's food. Denizens of Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and St. Louis will all swear they have the best barbecue. What if anything do they make in your hometown better than anywhere else?

4. In your experience, what is the best food town in the United States? And the worst?

5. Eat This features a short discussion on whether Irish Stew should or should not contain carrots. How important to you is a dish's authenticity?

6. Eat This quotes from O Pioneers! "Marie took out a pan of delicate little rolls, stuffed with stewed apricots, and began to dust them over with powdered sugar." Marie says the Bohemians (Czechs) like these rolls (called kolache) with their coffee. Is there any remembrance of cooking from the homeland you recall, or still make yourself?

7. What is your favorite food scene from literature? (Or the movies.)

8. Eating takes up a great deal of our time, effort and money. So why isn't there more food in our novels? (Or movies.)

9. Quality of the recipes aside, is there a cookbook writer you enjoy reading?

10. Which cookbook (s) have you bought and never once cooked from?

11. Which external cuisine has been best adapted to the American environment? (Chinese, Italian, German or English? Or other.)

12. Eat This contends that the three greatest American contributions to world culture are baseball, jazz, and barbecue. Do you agree?

13. Do you shop at a farmers market? Do you feel there is a movement toward locally produced, fresh food where you live? How far out of your way do you go to get good produce? Do you pay more to get organic food? How much does it matter to you to know exactly what is in the thing you're eating?

14. Eat This includes a chapter called "Why There Isn't a Kids' Food Chapter" which contends that in an ideal world, kids would eat the same as the grown-ups only in smaller amounts. Do you agree? If you have kids, are you a short-order cook for them every mealtime? [How] do you try to introduce new flavors and tastes to your kids? Were you a "picky eater" in childhood and if so, has it affected your eating habits as an adult? Are we too paranoid about what our kids eat?

15. M.F.K. Fisher writes about a piece of chocolate she ate on a cold Alpine mountainside as among the best things she's ever eaten. How much does the context in which you ate affect your memory of something you ate?

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