The Table Comes First

Family, France, and the Meaning of Food
The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food. Knopf. Nov. 2011. c.320p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780307593450. $25.95. COOKING
As a writer for The New Yorker for 25 years, Gopnik has been commenting on popular and eccentric American fads and sociocultural issues such as the NFL play-offs, the Internet, and our fascination with food and food preparation. Here, he satirizes the pleasures of the dining table—the routines of being beckoned by the family recipe or the restaurant menu, selecting what dishes to eat, socializing with fellow diners, and, finally, leaving with memories of the gathering. Within this framework, Gopnik comments on how we think about our daily practices of cooking and eating as an expression of the way we live and our changing values. He banters extensively on our obsessive interest in food, specifically in preserving traditional and regional cuisine, including the growth of local foodstuffs, and in applying technology to food preparation and presentation (e.g., molecular gastronomy).
VERDICT Despite Gopnik's allusive, witty prose, his supercilious and moralistic discussion will leave readers with a bad taste in the mouth. Down-to-earth foodies might prefer Jason Epstein's Eating. [Eight-city tour.]
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing