I could make a steady diet of stories (chapters?) like these.
For a while I wondered if "Edible Stories" was "A Novel in Sixteen Parts" because each "part" (story? chapter?) seemed separate from the others. But by the time one arrives at "Bean Curd," Margaret from "Red Sea Salt," the opening chapter, shows up. (This opening chapter, by the way, might put some readers off. In my opinion, it is one of the only parts of this novel that might have been more interestingly written.)
In this unique book, the reader is provided with a rich diet of characters and situations. In "Muffin," Big Biscuit, the overweight Jewish rapper, has dropped dead on stage, "...an enormous heap,...looking like a larger-than-life melting mousse..." (Yes, there is a good reason this is titled "Edible Stories"!) And Kugelman, investigating the cause of the death and himself overweight, finds himself working out at a gym with a large Jewish clientele. And it is in this gym that Kugelman finds himself becoming a connoisseur of muffins and making money on the stock market. What, you say? That in a gym? Yes! And it is very, very funny. Here is a sample of the Kurlansky's observations: "Kugelman thought about how women were required to wear exercise clothes that revealed their failures whereas men could dress to cover up. That was a conspiracy in itself.
In "Hot Dog"--I would have titled it "Lasagna"--we are taken to a Yankee v Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium where Howard has not only predicted the outcome of the game to his date, Emma, but has also prepared a scrumptious picnic except Emma would have preferred a hot dog. Why "Lasagna"? Well, it seems a very overweight guy--yes, there are plenty of obese characters in this novel, very current America!--has taken their seats and... Well, you read it to find out.
I'm a vegetarian (not that you care!)--not a vegan type--and my partner and I just did Thanksgiving for part of my family, of which one member was most concerned about whether or not a real turkey--not a tofurkey--would be placed on the table. So "Bean Curd" has just become a favorite ever of mine. You see Minty and Matthew have become vegans, the same Matthew who not only loves poetry, especially Tennyson, but also quotes lines no matter what the occasion. And, yes, Minty has been attached by a red-eyed turkey and has her red badge of courage to prove it. Anyway, their daughters want to make certain that a real turkey will be the bill of fare for Thanksgiving. Well... No, I won't tell. But it is so funny. Side-splittingly so!
In "The Soup" we find ourselves in Alaska--another story, "Orangina" is set in the French wine country--where one of the last of an indigenous people is making a soup now that salmon spawning season has arrived. And I am not going to say any more! But something tells me you are not going to be yearning for Mrs. Janie Powell Joseph's recipe! Betcha won't in the vernacular of one Alaskan!
And then, of course, there are the just too-funny-for-words (well, not exactly, not when Mark Kurlanksy is employing them) descriptions of characters. Wonderbread, for example! "...with his red and orange boxer shorts showing above his huge low-slung pants, his tight sleeveless shirt to display his tattoos, a stocking in red and white stripes and a single star, the Puerto Rican flag, covering his hair, and gold on every finger, each wrist and earlobe, sparkling at odd angles on his skinny chest like the torn-up chain mail armor of a battle-worn knight. A four-holed gold ring like brass knuckles spelled out the name Juan, which presumably was the name of its original owner."
Enough! If I haven't convinced you to purchase this novel, I never will.
This is a feast worth sharing with your friends. Especially if you have friends that love great writing.