Time Out look's at this week's best new cook books. Get culinary inspiration from Michael Pollan and Bee Wilson.
Time Out reviews some of the best new food books to give you culinary inspiration. Bon appetit!
In Defence of Food Michael Pollan Allen Lane, Dhs123 Michael Pollan’s 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma is one of the best-researched and most thought-provoking food books of our time: a well-constructed argument against agribusiness in the US, and explanation of how the current situation arose.
Pollan’s follow-up, In Defence of Food is this time an attack on the nutrition industry. Part of the problem with this subject is that he tries to marshal hard facts and figures about what little we know about nutrition – a task as hopeless as herding cats. Defence also reads like a response to the question raised by his earlier book, ‘So what should we eat?’ To which his answer is: ‘Eat Food. Mostly plants. Not too much.’
To back up his assertions he chooses facts that fit his arguments, mostly against what he calls ‘nutritionism’. He argues that the dietary diseases of our modern age are caused by a combination of factors including reductionist nutritional ‘science’, the sensational reporting of these nutritional studies, and the industry’s desire to sell us more junk food.
All correct up to a point, although Defence does come over more like a polemic than a panacea. But if you’re prone to pondering the nutritional advice we’re spoon-fed by ‘experts’, this book is a very necessary antidote. \
Swindled Bee Wilson John Murray, Dhs123 Think the food we eat today is adulterated and unsafe to eat? Read this book and be amazed our ancestors ever survived to their next meal. Food cheating and counterfeiting has been around as long as agriculture (and probably longer), and in this book author Bee Wilson picks out some of the more recent and better documented examples to amaze and inform.
Wilson’s food writing is among the best – she writes a regular column in the UK’s Sunday Telegraph news- paper. A former research fellow in the history of ideas at Cambridge University, her intellectual rigour and disciplined research skills prove a great match with her seamless and engaging writing – she manages to bring history alive, and leaves you wanting more.
From lead and arsenic in Victorian sweets to the perils of food scares which can paradoxically change the the nation’s diet for the worse, Wilson manages to uncover new material, and, more importantly, present it in an entertaining way. She makes many thought-provoking points: that while wine, for example, has become more rigorously policed and better quality over the centuries, the quality of bread has declined to the extent that most supermarket loaves are now more adulterated than bread has ever been. We are still slow, it seems, to learn the lessons of history.