The high point, though, is his chapter on a trip to Madrid in search of bull's testicles, a foray that gives him an excuse to take note of an array of other revolting delicacies - maggot-covered cheese and rotten herring, for instance.
The New York Times
This detailed chef's tour of prohibited pleasures for the palate, from Norwegian moonshine and Bolivian coca leaves to Spanish bull testicles, is laced with magnificent descriptions-some mouthwatering, others quite repulsive. Grescoe (Sacre Blues: An Unsentimental Journey Through Quebec) uses food as a pretext to lead readers on a heady quest to corroborate the libertarian principle of free will. Through his well-researched history lessons, readers learn of the birth and evolution of nine different foodstuffs, and the politics behind their prohibition. Grescoe paints colorful portraits of contemporary cultures by walking the land, sampling the fare and providing firsthand interviews with various food experts: aficionados, suppliers and officials charged with enforcing interdiction. His narrative makes a convincing case that most restrictions are based on unwarranted or outdated health concerns, or political agendas that profit the government (up to 86% of the price of liquor in Norway can go to taxes!). And while he successfully illustrates the arguments used by supporters of legalization, he surprises himself by conceding that certain governmental intervention can indeed be a necessary evil (e.g., protection of endangered animals). With amusing anecdotes and exotic imagery, this walk through the garden of "forbidden fruit" is a savory and powerful scrutiny into the psychology, markets and politics of prohibition. Agent, Michelle Tessler. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Not many tourist companies offer the kind of pleasures sought by the author in this provocative and highly entertaining travelog. As the title suggests, Grescoe (Sacre Blues) went looking for attractions not found in Birnbaum's or Fodor's-but it wasn't always easy to get the "locals" to trust him enough to pull back the veil of respectable tourism. Fortunately, the Montreal native knew how to insinuate himself into the youth crowd and get them to cough up their secrets. Speaking of coughing, his first task was to track down the illegal Norwegian moonshine whose name sounds like a diseased cat hacking up a fur ball: rotgut. Then it was off to Singapore-where chewing gum is illegal unless you have a medical need for it-to seek poppy-seed biscuits. Elsewhere, it was a search for Cohiba Esplendido (Cuban) cigars in San Francisco, absinthe in Europe, and stinky cheeses in France-a true menu of forbidden delights. Along the way, Grescoe comments on the societies that implement these restrictions and the inhabitants who blithely ignore them. This delightfully rebellious book will find a ready audience among travelers who wish to stray off the beaten path; for public libraries.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.