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

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

by Ian Jackman

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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


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!

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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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.

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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