Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture

Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture

by Dana Goodyear
Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture

Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture

by Dana Goodyear


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New Yorker writer Dana Goodyear combines the style of Mary Roach with the on-the-ground food savvy of Anthony Bourdain in a rollicking narrative look at the shocking extremes of the contemporary American food world.
A new American cuisine is forming. Animals never before considered or long since forgotten are emerging as delicacies. Parts that used to be for scrap are centerpieces. Ash and hay are fashionable ingredients, and you pay handsomely to breathe flavored air. Going out to a nice dinner now often precipitates a confrontation with a fundamental question: Is that food?

Dana Goodyear’s anticipated debut, Anything That Moves, is simultaneously a humorous adventure, a behind-the-scenes look at, and an attempt to understand the implications of the way we eat. This is a universe populated by insect-eaters and blood drinkers, avant-garde chefs who make food out of roadside leaves and wood, and others who serve endangered species and Schedule I drugs—a cast of characters, in other words, who flirt with danger, taboo, and disgust in pursuit of the sublime. Behind them is an intricate network of scavengers, dealers, and pitchmen responsible for introducing the rare and exotic into the marketplace. This is the fringe of the modern American meal, but to judge from history, it will not be long before it reaches the family table. Anything That Moves is a highly entertaining, revelatory look into the raucous, strange, fascinatingly complex world of contemporary American food culture, and the places where the extreme is bleeding into the mainstream.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594488375
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/14/2013
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.96(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dana Goodyear is a staff writer for The New Yorker. She teaches at the University of Southern California.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Squishy or Swank?

1 The Scavenger 13

2 Grub 39

3 Backdoor Men 71

Part II Down the Rabbit Hole

4 The Rawesome Three 111

5 Double Dare 137

6 Haute Cuisine 151

Part III Discomfort Food

7 Guts 175

8 Off Menu 199

9 The Hunt 226

Coda 256

Acknowledgments 261

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Food editors need people like [Dana Goodyear]. Anyone who can write so wisely and entertainingly about eating rarities is a rarity herself."—Slate

"Dana Goodyear’s new book, about being a wallflower at the American food orgy, won me over on its second page."—The New York Times

"It is precisely because I am not a foodie that I found such immense pleasure in reading Dana Goodyear's Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture. It was like reading Bruce Chatwin on Patagonia or Ryszard Kapuscinski on Ethiopia, maybe even Norman Mailer on war. I don't want to be there, but I want to have already been there."—Newsweek

"Like any good exploration of an avant-garde subculture, Goodyear populates her stories with all sorts of fascinations. . . . What Anything That Moves does better than talk about weird food is profile the obsessives who eat it. They're an esoteric group whose influence is slowly seeping into the mainstream. You won't want to adjust your dietary habits, but in a lot of ways, it's already changing."—Grantland

"Anything That Moves is frenetic and fascinating and turns the stomach."—Bloomberg Businessweek


“Goodyear is an extraordinary adept reporter and observer. I can’t think of another writer who could have done justice to the material. . . . Highly enjoyable and memorable journey through the brave and strange new world of avant garde cuisine.”—Boston Globe

"I don't think I've ever used the word disgusting as a compliment, but here goes. Goodyear's riveting, hilarious, disturbing, and downright disgusting new book is the perfect antidote to a Martha Stewart Thanksgiving. This journalistic thriller, set among the culinary avant-garde, is all about dangerous eating. A rose-haired tarantula spider roll. Frog fallopian tubes. And the most extreme: an unhatched chick, eaten whole. But this story isn't meant to gross you out; it's a window onto a world of chefs, purveyors, farmers, scavengers, and gonzo foodies."—Dani Shapiro, More

"Addictive, educational, and gross."—Elle

“Goodyear is a witty writer with a sly humor that makes her a genial guide to such a strange and diverse counterculture.”—Los Angeles Times

"Venturing deep into the underground foodie culture, New Yorker contributor Goodyear plunges into the world of dedicated individuals who routinely skirt the boundaries imposed by common culinary practices and tastes. . . . Goodyear’s exploration of this engrossing and morally complex topic provides a solid footing for hearty conversations."—Kirkus (starred review)

"Poet and New Yorker staff writer Goodyear is an insightful, vivid, and smart commentator on food. Here she focuses on the reinvention of food in modern America, exploring the highs, lows, and surprises of cutting-edge foodie culture."—Library Journal

"Dana Goodyear may be our finest longform food journalist. The New Yorker staff writer . . . has written for that magazine on California’s unpasteurized milk movement and Los Angeles’s underground Wolvesmouth restaurant. She does not disappoint here, in an exploration (partly culled from her New Yorker pieces) of what she calls 'the outer bounds of food culture,' which includes everything from the Las Vegas food scene (a frightening notion) to head-to-tail butchering. Anyone who writes about eating 'stinkbugs' is worth reading."—Atlantic Wire

“In Anything That Moves, Dana Goodyear takes as her subject the outer edges and extremes of American food culture, and shows us, with grace, quiet humor, and poetic precision, how closely the weird mirrors the typical. Reporting on the margins of food culture, she reveals much about the broader comedy of manners and morals in American life.”—Adam Gopnik

“Dana Goodyear is one of the most complete and authoritative voices in food journalism today. Anything That Moves so accurately describes the remaking of our modern food culture in America that I swear I can taste it. Combining serious thought and intelligent perspective with writing that is entertaining and inspiring, this is an important book and a delightfully fun read. I loved it.”—Andrew Zimmern

“Dana Goodyear takes us on a wild romp through the fringes of today’s extreme dining scene. The journey is exciting, eye-opening, a little scary at times, and always fascinating. I couldn’t put Anything that Moves down.”—Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit

“Finally the ‘foodie movement’ finds a voice I trust.  With a poet’s empathy and a reporter’s nose for story, Goodyear brings us the high-minded adventurers and flash hucksters who are setting the future course of American food.  This book has permanently changed my view of the plate, by revealing the politics, culture, sex, and crime that lie behind.”—Tom Mueller, New York Times-bestselling author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil


A Conversation with Dana Goodyear, Author of Anything That Moves

How do you define a "foodie"?

A foodie is someone who takes deep and specific, almost zealous, pleasure in eating. Fifty years ago, the ready image of the gourmet was a rotund, late-middle-aged white guy with a monocle and a gold pocket watch. Today, anyone can be a foodie—a Mexican-American teenager with a penchant for punk rock, a white West Virginian fan of Anthony Bourdain, a middle-aged Filipina social media addict. (All these characters, incidentally, appear in my book.) What foodies share, rather than a demographic sector, is an attitude toward food. They are adventurous, curious, competitive, opinionated, thrill-seeking, obsessive. They find eating meaningful. Most essentially, they make a social identity out of their attitude toward food. Maybe it shouldn't be, but "foodie" is a word people use to describe themselves.

It can be easy to lampoon foodies, always taking pictures of their food before eating it and boasting about their gustatory feats, and as the phenomenon has grown more widespread a backlash has started. Writing in Harper's, the novelist Will Self, a former London restaurant critic and possibly the inspiration for Anton Ego in "Ratatouille," disparaged those who "seek acculturation through the crudest form of assimilation, the oral." Others dismiss the preoccupation with food as mere self-indulgence, gluttony excused—celebrated—as a cultural fad. But I think there is something more at work. Foodies embody our anxiety, both about the next meal and about the next century. They are teaching us how to eat like survivors, as people in cultures older than ours have been doing for hundreds if not thousands of years—even as those same cultures begin to imitate the unsustainable, unscalable Western diet. As champions of the obscure, often defiant toward mainstream and increasingly outmoded American notions of edibility, foodies are enlarging the popular conception of what constitutes food.

Is there something that the serious foodies you write about have in common? Something in their backgrounds or habits or culinary goals?

Many of the people I write about are willing to break not only taboos but also laws—and talk about it! Among foodies—eaters, chefs, and purveyors—there is an intense longing for a return to a pre-regulatory time, when the range of available food was much wider. There is a strong sense that the cascade of laws set in motion by the passage of the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 has contributed to the industrialization of the food system and the alienation of the consumer from the sources of nutrition. In conversation after conversation with food people from all over the country, I heard enormous frustration with the limitations that our food laws place on their curiosity. No wild birds! No raw milk! No tonka beans! No horse! (At least for now.) In California, no foie gras.

In this context, eating ingredients that fall in a grey area or are fully illegal is not just titillating to foodies but appeals to their sense of righteousness. This, more than any food they have in common—for nothing is more niche than appetite—is what makes for a movement.

A generation ago, things like sushi were fringe in this country. What will we be eating at home 30 years from now that the average eater can't conceive of now?

I want to say insects because there is the greatest resistance and the greatest momentum, but there are some practical considerations when it comes to popular adoption, starting with the fact that there is no large-scale insect rearing and production operation in this country and wild-harvesting is inadvisable due to the potential for pesticide exposure. I take that back: I did visit a mealworm factory in Compton (the sweet smell of bran and barn is with me still) that sells billions of beetle larvae to zoos and pet stores. But regulators don't want us eating things "diverted from the pet-food stream" that were never intended to be eaten by people.

So instead I'd put my money on offal. People with European grandparents have sense memory of it. There's a latent culinary tradition and an existing industry. We are already fattening the pigs, and each one has two ears, so why not sell those ears to restaurants? (As it is, many chefs complained to me that much of the offal in this country is ground up for dog food.) I think the change is underway. The past several years have seen pigs' ears go from being a provocation on daring menus in expensive restaurants to almost a fine-dining cliché. Fried, they look sort of like a McDonald's hot apple pie, but macho. I think a lot of people could go for them.

What surprised you the most in your research and reporting?

I started this project wanting to explore the impulse toward danger, disgust, and taboo in high-end, for-pleasure eating. So I was expecting to find—I was looking for—outré displays. Nonetheless, I was really shocked by the lengths to which the people I met were willing to go to eat according to their desires. They risked disease, disgrace, financial ruin, and in some cases jail for the sake of food.

The implications of foodie-ism were so much wider than I initially assumed. A small, aesthetic observation—increasingly, we go to fancy restaurants to be challenged rather than to be coddled—led me to a subculture, or a series of overlapping and occasionally warring subcultures, whose collective work is to argue for a broader, more inclusive American diet.

The other thing that really surprised me is that I like ant larvae and pupae, a.k.a. Mexican caviar. And frog fallopian tubes, done right, taste like lychee fruit.

How much of the fringe food culture is tied to wealth? Could these trends exist without it?

Foodie-ism is, make no mistake, a leisure pursuit. But two things struck me, again and again, over the years I spent researching the book. One is that to an amazing degree the behavior of American foodies, down to the obsessive and time-consuming pursuit of a meal, apes that of subsistence eaters. The foods themselves—insects, innards and extremities, wildflowers and weeds—were often until recently associated with poverty. Now they are taking their place beside foie gras and caviar on the menus of the country's most expensive restaurants.

The second fascinating development is the democratization of foodie-ism. Jonathan Gold, who won a Pulitzer for writing about holes-in-the-wall for the L.A. Weekly, gets the credit for this. He made readers see, as one put it, that "food writing doesn't need to be so hosh-posh, snobby, and froufrou. It can be ghetto." Then there was the Food Network, and the Internet.

Has writing the book changed the way you eat in general?

Eating brains, hearts, ears, sex organs, bugs, unhatched duck eggs, and drinking coffee made from beans excreted by a civet, I learned, for the first time in my eating life, restraint. You just don't want to eat too much of any of these things. I pray it lasts; I fear it won't.

Who have you discovered lately?

I recently (finally) read The Gastronomical Me, by M.F.K. Fisher. It purports to be a food memoir, but that's like calling "Ariel" a collection of mom poems. Fisher's subject is "the dark necessity of eating" and the hungers (emotional, physical, psychological) that gnaw at every life. She is a sentence writer, and she enchantingly abuses ellipses. I love how she admits that she can't actually remember what anything tasted like, only that it was the best thing she ever had. Her descriptions of how the food looked are incredibly vivid, as are her sketches, sometimes accomplished in just a few strokes, of the people who prepared, served, and shared it with her.

I wish I were doing more than reading Saving The Season, the extraordinary, witty, literate, soulful guide to preserving by my friend Kevin West. I should be following his advice and putting up the peaches as they peak. But they are irresistible.

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