L.V. Anderson of Slate reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
"Bugs, horse, brains, whale; leaves, weeds, ice cream flavored with lichen-covered logs." So begins Dana Goodyear's new book about the most recent phase of the foodie movement: adventurous eating.
"Anything That Moves," out this month from Riverhead Books, is a ceaselessly entertaining and illuminating collection of dispatches from the fringes of food culture, where daredevil diners relish ingredients that might seem inedible, or at least unappetizing, to most Americans.
Over the course of the book, Goodyear consumes stinkbugs, ant eggs, lamb spleen, and a half-developed duck egg that's a delicacy in the Philippines. She also profiles the men—and they're almost all men—at the forefront of renegade food culture, including a Las Vegas purveyor of truffles and foie gras, restaurateurs who worship at the altar of organ meat, and a chef who creates a marijuana-themed tasting menu.
Goodyear is a skilled storyteller with an ear for dialogue, and she's also a thorough researcher, delving into the history of extreme eating. (Did you know that in the 1960s, some American grocery stores sold canned elephant and tiger meat?) She also makes some keen observations about the ethical and societal ramifications of fringe foodie-ism, but I wish she had devoted more of the book to analyzing her findings.
"Anything That Moves" has some other limitations—for instance, Goodyear writes almost exclusively about Southern California foodies—but overall, it's an informative, fascinating read about the way we eat now.
Read reviews of Anything That Moves and other new titles about food in the Slate Book Review at slate.com/books.