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Strange new world

I just finished reading The Foodie Handbook by Pim of Chez Pim, the blogger who organized the Menu for Hope raffle (among the many other food-related things she does). Quite reasonably, she refers to her blog on a regular basis in the book.

Only at the end did I realize - no where in this book was there a URL given for the blog. Readers are meant to already know. If they don't, it's certainly easy enough to find it by web search. Oversight, or strange new world which needs no URLs in it?

I like food writers who know their own taste buds, and Pim does. The book's organized into short essays and lists, much like a compilation of blog posts; whether or not they are, that's a length she's learned to write to. Highlights for me were her thoughts on wine, Thai food, and eating at street markets. At least half the book is a cookbook, some of whose recipes appeal to me, especially the saffron and liquorice risotto. Ever since reading Taste of America, I've tried to properly read recipes if I'm reading a book which has them in it; I still feel like a beginning recipe-reader, but I'm working on it. The book is full of photos; the black-and-white ones are mostly of Pim herself, to the point that she was sometimes more the commodity than her writing.

I admit, I was hoping for more prose, less cookbook. The introduction overuses the word "foodie", to the point that I think I've gone off the word. The list of "Fifty things every foodie must do" reminded me too much of equivalent meme-lists which include "Has gone on a gondola in Venice". (I haven't been in a gondola in Venice, which says absolutely nothing about the time I've spent in Venice.) I know that's not the point; it's to inform and encourage interesting experiences. Speaking of which, I coveted a whole lot more of her restaurant experiences, especially since so many are high-end, the sort I'm even more partial to reading about second-hand than most - it's cheaper than going - but that's not the book she wrote. She does make use of a certain amount of her famous people network, but I felt there was room for more name-dropping still! I did keep feeling there was something slightly alien about her approach to life - just alien to me, not to the world at large! I finally figured it out when she made a flippant, negative remark about Trekkies and Dr. Who fans which I'm almost tempted to send to Ansible.

The best of it was that it made me think, about building up cults of micro-celebrity (thanks, tsenft!), when spotting a typo (thoughts on book production values and the costs of editing), or just when disagreeing with what she wrote (I haven't the slightest interest in eating fugu, however good the sushi master in question). I'm not certain I'd recommend it to most people who aren't already followers of her blog, but I'm glad I've read it. Plus - liquorice and saffron risotto!

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