Writing About Food: Nonfiction Previews, Oct. 2023, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

Food: where it comes from, how it intersects with social and cultural factors. 

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Dunlop, Fuchsia. Invitation to a Banquet: The Story of Chinese Food. Norton. Oct. 2023. 416p. ISBN 9780393867138. $32.50.

A James Beard Award–winning expert in Chinese cuisine, Dunlop isn’t here to offer recipes. Instead, she uses a menu of 30 dishes from Mapo tofu to drunken crabs to reveal the history, philosophies, and techniques of a cuisine that has linked diet and health for two millennia. Dunlop is the first Westerner to train at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine.

Foster, Kim. The Meth Lunches: Food and Longing in an American City. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781250278777. $30.

Who we are and where we stand in life is evidenced by the food we eat—or can’t put on the table. As she ranges from a grocery store cashier relieved to be surrounded by food after a childhood marked by hunger to an unhoused woman hopefully growing scallions in the car where she lives, the James Beard Award–winning Foster shows how poverty impacts food consumption in the United States. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Friedman, Andrew. The Dish: The Lives and Labor Behind One Plate of Food. Mariner: HarperCollins. Oct. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780063135970. $29.99. CD.

What does it take to get one plate of food onto a restaurant table? To tell us, chef writer Friedman tracks a single dish at Chicago’s Wherewithall restaurant, moving from the modern farming industry and the food-supply chain, to the server who takes a diner’s order, to the chefs who dreamed up the dish and manage the kitchen, to the line cooks and sous chefs who cook it, and finally to the dishwashers and busers who keep things clean. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Garner, Dwight. The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading. Farrar. Oct. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780374603427. $27.

New York Times book critic Garner talks about the two things he loves the most, books and food, starting with his mayonnaise-enriched childhood (and his father’s famous peanut butter and pickle sandwich) and moving on to his marriage to a chef from a food-passionate family. A narrative framed by breakfast, lunch, shopping, drinking, and dinner weaves the two together. With a 35,000-copy first printing.

Harris, Will. A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm, Six Generations, and the Future of Food. Viking. Oct. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780593300473. $29.

A fourth-generation farmer, Harris became concerned with the cruelty, excesses, and environmental and small-town devastation wrought by conventional farming when he inherited White Oak Pastures in Georgia. He has sought a different way, an approach he calls radical traditional that works with nature and brings people closer to the food they eat. The result is both manifesto and multigenerational memoir from a man the New York Times calls “Justin Bieber of new agriculture.”

Lohman, Sarah. Endangered Eating: America’s Vanishing Foods. Norton. Oct. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781324004660. $28.95.

Shocked by the disappearance of comestibles from heirloom cider apples to wild rice long associated with the North American continent, food historian Lohman (Eight Flavors) sets out to discover foods that are fast disappearing—and find a way to save them. In particular, she argues for preserving largely Indigenous culinary customs very nearly lost to colonization.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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