The Atlantic - Food Section

Book Review in The Atlantic

The Atlantic ran a fantastic review of my book, Recipes of the Nerds.

Clear, fact-packed, and engaging … Cooking for Geeks offers an improbable victory of text over the standard food porn.

For me, the book is hard to put down. Its overall clarity and organization, as well as its success, may point to a sequel (or a 2.0 version) of sorts. It seems to me that this is a real phenomena. In the past two weeks, Google matches and Twitter mentions on this particular title have risen exponentially, to a level normally reached only by books from well-known chefs and personalities—and after a much longer time period. It’s evidence of a lot of creativity and brainpower connecting to the cooking world through books, TV, and above all, the Internet. It will be interesting to see what the nerds cook up next.

One interesting experience of reading reviews about your work: you get someone else’s perspective of your work (duh), which is like seeing yourself in a mirror—but where the mirror is warped and instead shows you how other people see you (not so obvious).

Here’s one example of this. Ike DeLorenzo, the author of The Atlantic review of my book, has an amazingly nice way of summing up something about the way I feel that I’d never been able to pinpoint before: “On the whole, Cooking for Geeks offers an improbable victory of text over the standard food porn.”

I love this quote. It says so much about me, about society, and, well, about me and society. When it comes to food porn, I’m tired of seeing amazingly perfect steamed veggies, amazingly perfect tomato basil mozzarella salads, and amazingly perfect pizzas. Food and cooking should be about community, about nurturing, and about having fun. (I’m so not a competitive cook–see pages 8 & 9 in the book for details.)

This is a significant moment in food history. Think about it: Domino’s Pizza of all places is pointing out that we’ve jumped the shark with the level of attention given to making food photographs look impossibly perfect. (I also find it funny that it’s Domino’s of all places that has picked it up first. True; it’s in their interest to reset expectations; but their point is valid.)

I don’t think I’m alone. I’m too young to have “grown up” with Julia Child, but I miss even the idea of seeing a TV Chef drop a chicken and pick it up and carry on. I’ll leave you with one more video, just to drill home the point of how far off food porn is from reality by contrasting it with what we do to images of people: Click to watch Dove Evolution on YouTube.com. (Embedding is disabled. Hello, Dove? Fail.)

Just how far should we tolerate the truth being stretched?

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