Food: Word of mouth - Insatiable appetite - Life and Style - The Independent

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

For the past eight years, with a degree of doggedness, erudition and wit that would make one ardently wish to be on his side in a lawsuit, Jeffrey Steingarten has written about food for American Vogue. His topics are as various as low-fat cookbooks, the preparation of chips, or the seafood of the Venetian lagoon, and he will probably have lived, breathed, cooked and eaten every relevant permutation, along the way. "Of the 341 papers written on mashed potatoes in the past 20 years," this former corporate lawyer will announce, "30 seemed especially worth reading, as did Potato Processing, the bible of the industry."

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

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Energy Markets Analyst

    £400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

    Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Nursery Manager

    £22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

    Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week