Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book Review: The United States of Arugula

I picked up this book at the library, sort of on a whim when I was returning "Born To Run." I had seen it at the bookstore a few times and thought it sounded interesting and decided to give it a go.

The National Bestseller written by David Kamp (a writer and editor who has had pieces in Vanity Fair and GQ), is all about the history of food, specifically chefs, restaurants and cookbooks, in America. Kamp begins his story back in the 1700's with the first known cookbooks in America and a vivid description of American eating habits. Turns out, the history of our restuarant culture and the rise of 'celebrity chefs' is quite interesting! The book is filled with fascinating tidbits of insider knowledge and background on chefs and restaurants. I never realized that fine dining in this country originated with French restaurants in New York, and really got its start during the Worlds Fair! And did you know the first Sushi restaurant in the US, Kawafuka, opened in 1960 in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles?

The book covers so many topics and people that at times it is a bit difficult to keep it all straight, but the stories are still quite intriguing and informational. I do think it's a good book for anyone interested in this area of the food industry. It did educate me on a lot of the chefs we know today and where our dining habits (outside of the home, mostly) originated. There is quite a bit of time spent on local and organic foods, but Kamp doesn't ignore the other view of food sourcing for restaurants either. I think my interpretation, or ideas, of some of these stories is most likely quite different than those of a chef or someone in the restaurant industry. Looking in from the outside, some of it seems a bit ridiculous, but it is serious business and art at the same time, so I do suppose even the wackiest situations make sense in a way.

For more info on David Kamp and this book, visit

Now I'm heading to Central Park for NYC Adventure and then to the bookstore to pick up my next read (I tried getting it through the library but was number 450-something in line for it! I'm not waiting that long!).

workout stats -
2mi elliptical
13mi bike
3x12 cable pull twists
3x10 single leg cable pull standing crunch (made up that name!)
3x10 tricep extension
3x10 tricep kickback
3x10 glute kickback
stretching (although not enough!)


Anonymous said...

this sounds like a great book....thanks for the review :)

Gina; The Candid RD said...

I'm writing this book down as one that I need to read! I love good book recommendations. This sounds fantastic. Thanks!

Katie @ Health for the Whole Self said...

Thanks for this review! This is the first time I'm hearing of this book...sounds like an interesting read!

Jennifer Vanderbeek said...

I must have missed this one when it came out but I'll have to put it on my list for when I finish my re-read of Toussaint-Samat's History of Food.