Food Festivals, U.S.A. (2002)
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Wed Oct 23 04:16:35 UTC 2002
FOOD FESTIVALS, U.S.A.
250 RED, WHITE & BLUE RIBBON RECIPES FROM ALL 50 STATES
by Becky Mercuri
San Diego: Laurel Glen
430 pages, paperback, $24.95
Amazon.com has this as a book to buy with ROADFOOD (2002). It should have
been an interesting book to explore American regional cuisine, but I think it
fumbles a great topic.
Two people on Amazon, both named "a reader," grade the book "four stars."
It looks suspicious. "A reader from New Jersey" calls this book "An
Encyclopedia of American food"..There is a short forward by food writer John
T. Edge...First-time author Mercuri claims that she owns 7,000 cookbooks.
The food festivals are listed, there is a blurb for each ("XXX is the
Apple/Orange/Raisin/Shrimp/Blueberry Capital of the U.S."), and there is a
recipe for each. Very little food history is given. The
apple/orange/raisin/shrimp/blueberry recipes can better be found on the web.
The festivals themselves can better be found on the web--with up-to-date
info. This book strangely acts as if the web doesn't exist! In the
"DIRECTORY OF FESTIVALS BY STATE" at the end of the book, the mailing
addresses and telephone numbers are given. Not a single food festival has a
A huge number of "food festivals" aren't here. New York City, for
example, has no food festivals at all? What about that international food
"street fair" that they hold every year? And what about the annual July 4th
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contests? What about the food contests/events held
every year at state fairs? What exactly is a "food festival"? Pg. 402, for
example, includes the "Race to Bake the Biggest Apple Pie"--not a "food
festival," even admittedly not so by the author. There's a poor, greatly
reduced "food festival" selection contained here.
There's also no bibliography. This entire book was written at least twice
before. You can check Amazon for GOURMET FOOD AND WINE FESTIVALS OF NORTH
AMERICA (1986) by Carol Spivak and Richard Weinstock, and FOOD FESTIVAL: THE
ULTIMATE GUIDEBOOK TO AMERICA'S BEST REGIONAL FOOD CELEBRATIONS (1994) by
Alice M. Cohen and Carole Berglie, and FOOD FESTIVAL: EATING YOUR WAY FROM
COAST TO COAST (1997) by Barbara Carlson.
A large number of interesting food festival titles have been published
recently, such as FOOD FESTIVALS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, FOOD FESTIVALS OF
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, FOOD FESTIVALS OF TEXAS, CALIFORNIA FOOD FESTIVALS
COOKBOOK, and WISCONSIN FOOD FESTIVALS. Again, there is no bibliography to
tell you this.
Food TV (www.foodtv.com) has a program called "All American Festivals."
The web site has a discussion board. The tv program is never mentioned.
To summarize: the book misses the potential of the topic. I can't tell
you whether it's worth the $24.95 to you, but you can get all this for free,
and get it better, on the web. Unlike ROADFOOD, I can't think of a single
regional food blurb worthy of sharing here on ADS-L. And that was the
purpose of the book, as the author bio declares on page 429: "With the
homogenization of the American palate, the food historian in Becky wanted to
capture America's rich cultural and ethnic diversity as embodied in the foods
of our forebears. The results are well worth it and we believe that Becky's
warmth and wit shine through the pages of her book, which are a culinary
travelogue of our great country's distinctive foodways. The recipes are
unique, innovative, traditional, ethnic, and delicious!"
Pg. IX ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (...) My agent, Meredith Bernstein, who immediately
believed in this book and who bravely and competently promoted a new author.
Meredith Bernstein! MEREDITH BERNSTEIN!!!!!!
In October 2001, I had a pre-Yom Kippur dinner with my sister and Meredith
Bernstein's mom. I was told to submit my stuff to Meredith Bernstein, who
would listen to my book ideas.
So I said, post 9-11, that I'd like to write a New York CIty book on "the
Big Apple," as only I can. It would go well beyond and utterly destroy
Robert Hendrickson's NEW YORK TALK and Irving Lewis Allen's CITY IN SLANG.
I also mentioned that I've done enormous and original work on food
history, and I'd like to do a book on food etymologies. (I signed on to THE
OXFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN FOOD two months later.)
Meredith Bernstein wouldn't talk to me at all. She quickly returned all
of my stuff, saying tersely that she had no idea what I had in mind.
Whatever it was, it wasn't for her!
And now we have a pedestrian, been-there-before, instantly forgettable
book called FOOD FESTIVALS, USA (2002).
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