Trillin wrote a series of articles for the New Yorker over the course of 15 years called “U.S. Journal”. As part of that, every now and then he’d throw in an article about eating, as he tasted some outstanding local cuisine someplace. Mind you, he’s not necessarily talking about fancy haute cuisine, something which he actually came to dread; as he put it, “A visitor is invariably subjected to… some comment like ‘We happen to have an excellent French restaurant here now.’ The short answer to that one, of course, would be ‘No you don’t.’” (this quote was actually the one that got me to read this book – a friend of mine mentioned it, I was amused, he let me borrow the book).
Instead Trillin celebrates the wonderful glories of little hole-in-the-wall places across the country. His favorite is Arthur Bryant’s BBQ in Kansas City where he grew up. I’ve now been to Arthur Bryant’s, and it’s pretty darn good. And it oozes character. So I can see where he’s coming from. This book (well, trilogy of books – it’s a collection of “American Fried”, “Alice, Let’s Eat”, and “Third Helpings”) collects most of those food-related articles in one place.
I thought the book was entertaining, but in small doses. An article a day is about the right pace. Otherwise, it becomes overwhelming. And because the articles were written three decades ago for the most part, it’s slightly dated. But anyway.