Food: Word of mouth - Insatiable appetite
Beef from cows massaged and fed on sake, chips fried in horse fat, even mashed potato - for the definite guide to the foods in vogue, ask Jeffrey Steingarten
Saturday 26 September 1998
When Steingarten says, "I have spent weeks combining the scientific journals for data on the poisons that lurk in every bowl of salad and every basket of crudites", you believe he has done little else during that time. Now his Vogue essays have been expanded and published as The Man Who Ate Everything (Headline, pounds 14.99) and include what must be the definitive account of trying to replicate Alsatian choucroute, living on a subsistence diet and cooking beef from cows that have been massaged and fed on sake.
Face to face, Steingarten is pretty much a stranger to soundbites. Still, any encounter with something to eat, however mundane, can set him off. Faced with a bottle of tomato sauce, he embarks on a discourse about how to identify ketchup made from fresh, ripe tomatoes by the date stamp on the lid. Apparently, most tomatoes picked for ketchup are turned into concentrate for future bottling, except those used at the time of the harvest in August. His flow of information is a force as dense and unstoppable as the contents of the upturned bottle.
Irrepressible in pursuit of the edible and a scourge of sloppy thinking and faddy eating, he doesn't just take pot shots at fashionable fears about fat, salt, sugar and raw shellfish, and those who fuel them, but launches a ruthlessly sustained assault on them, backed up by a mass of facts, none of which is irrelevant in his crusade against ignorance. You can learn from him that the best chips are fried in horse fat; that catfish have tastebuds on their whiskers; Pythagoras wouldn't let his followers eat fava beans; almost every low-fat recipe results in repulsive cakes; and his definition of fruit: an ovary we eat for dessert.
More seriously, he tackles the paradox that the French record for fatal coronary heart disease, the lowest in the Western world, confounds the arguments for reducing fat in our diets, and by his characteristically literal methodology - following them to the letter - he exposes the pointless denial of diet regimes.
Despite the title of his book, Steingarten's appetite for information is not matched by an indiscriminate one for food. He may live and work for food, but not for eating, which he does slowly and fastidiously. Steingarten is a heavyweight, but, miraculously, not of the type I expected before meeting him. Caroline Stacey
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
Life & Style blogs
Ebola outbreak: Virus to kill 67,000 in Monrovia by December, claims academic study
Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
Dear young men: The old stereotypes of what it is to be a 'man' are a load of rubbish
Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
What do the text messages between you and your partner reveal about your relationship?
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
£4848 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Outstanding...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors/Long Term Teaching Ass...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher...
£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors needed for seco...