This anthology series, The Best Food Writing, is not part of those other anthology series you see every fall. It's all on its own, with the same editor, Holly Hughes, since 2000. Although I didn't discover Best Food Writing until 2003, once I found it I had to go back and read the volumes I'd missed up to that point. I discovered new writers and publications -- what a treasure.
Then, about ten years into the series I stopped enjoying the annual food writing collections. They'd become "Pollan-ized" -- the articles were more and more about sustainable food and locavore eating, a la Michael Pollan and others. Not all the articles were so solemn -- some were downright snooty, about self-important celebrity chefs and exclusive four star restaurants. No thanks.
But this year, Hughes has returned with a collection reminiscent of the old days -- essays about quirky food memories and found recipes and the unexpected, such as $4 hipster toast. It's not just fluff either -- there are some gritty and pointed articles about prison food, eating on an ever-shrinking food stamp allotment, and the myth of the condemned prisoners' last meals.
Over fifty writers have contributed to this 400-page buffet of essays, articles, and recipes from newspapers, magazines, and food blogs. Chow down!
(Thanks to NetGalley and Perseus Books for a digital review copy.)