The Joy of Eating: A Guide to Food in Modern Pop Culture

Greenwood. Nov. 2021. 404p. ISBN 9781440862090. $97. REF
Undaunted by the vastness of its subject, Glenn’s well-written debut traces the enduring Julia Child–esque American tradition of exuberant eating and connects it to historical and sociological contexts. Bridging the gap between the academic and the popular, Glenn offers impressive depth but surface lightness, with menu-like headings inside alpha entries. The “see also” paragraphs are titled “Suggested Pairings”; there’s also “Best Enjoyed While Eating” (food descriptions) and “Small Plates” (sidebars) If the tweeness doesn’t spoil readers’ appetites, there is a bounty to gorge on or digest slowly. The 100 excellent but not exhaustive entries cover individuals (James Beard; Michael Twitty), destinations (many festivals), performances, media, trends, and connections to the arts connections, though it’s missing subjects like Najmieh Batmanglij, Claudia Roden, and Edna Lewis. Race, ethnicity, nationality, and region are considered, and cultural appropriation is questioned. The book is U.S.-focused, though there are entries on international museums and events. A list for further reading, a bibliography, a chronology (1784–2020), and an index (although it omits many names cited in the text) add reference value.
VERDICT Personal, informative, educational, and celebratory, Glenn’s work offers something for every pop taste.
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