"A big juicy dish bubbling with scandals and rivalries, thickened with oft-told secrets, chock full of random bits as if a boxful of mementos had been upended into the stew. Dig in, and it is likely to persuade you that this Clark Kent of a food editor really did exert superpowers on the cultural life of twentieth-century America" (The Washington Post).
From his first day on the job as the New York Times food critic, Craig Claiborne excited readers by introducing them to food worlds unknown, initiating them in the standards of the finest French cuisine as well as the tantalizing joys of foods from India, China, Mexico, and Spain. He extolled the pleasures of "exotic" ingredients like arugula and praised "newfangled" tools like the Cuisinart, which once he'd given his stamp of approval, became wildly popular. His good review of a restaurant guaranteed a full house for weeks, while a bad one might close a kitchen down.
But Claiborne's life "was not all crème fraîche," (USA TODAY)—the passionate gastronome who gave Julia Child her first major book review and brought Jacques Pepin into the national spotlight also led a deeply turbulent personal life, imprisoned in solitude and forced to mask his sexuality.
Thomas McNamee offers a lively and vivid account of Claiborne's extraordinary adventure in food. More than an engrossing biography, this is the story of the country's transition from enchantment with frozen TV dinners to a new consciousness of truly good cooking.