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The Table Comes First Paperback – 25 Oct 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (25 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849162875
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849162876
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 510,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'His writing here is a high-glazed wonder' Kathryn Hughes, Guardian.

'I need to read anything that Adam Gopnik writes and these essays on food, eating and - it follows - life are a particular feast. His acuity, grace, sensitive intelligence (in short, his brilliance) are, as ever, dazzlingly displayed and yet with the lightest of touches' Nigella Lawson.

'Brilliant ... flamboyant and greedy' Independent.

'Extraordinary' GQ.

'Like the Argentinian [Lionel Messi], Gopnik is always worth watching' Telegraph.

'Gopnik, a brilliant writer on the New Yorker, makes a passionate case for the centrality of the table to our lives, and the binding force of sitting down to the 'nightly miracle' of dinner' Sunday Times.

'He may be the best food writer there is. He's certainly the most thoughtful - the most philosophical' Evening Standard.

'Gopnik writes beautifully ... this is a lovely history of the way we think about all sorts of things' William Leith.

'These are personal essays in the fullest sense of the word, sieving the big subjects of the book's subtitle - family, France, food - through one man's well-furnished mind' Guardian.

From the Inside Flap

Never before have we cared so much about food. It preoccupies our popular culture, our fantasies, and even our moralizing - 'You still eat meat?' With our top chefs as deities and finest restaurants as places of pilgrimage, we have made food the stuff of secular seeking and transcendence, finding inner heaven in a mouthful. But have we come any closer to discovering the true meaning of food in our lives? With inimitable charm and learning, Adam Gopnik takes us on a beguiling journey in search of that meaning as he charts our recent and rapid evolution from commendable aware eaters to manic-compulsive gastronomes. It is a journey that begins in 18th century France - the birthplace of our modern tastes (and, by no coincidence, of the restaurant) - carries us to the molecular Meccas of Barcelona and delves into the most burning questions of our time. Throughout, he reminds us of a time-honoured truth often lost amid our newfound gastronomic pieties and certitudes: what goes on the table has never mattered as much to our lives as what goes on around the table - the scene of families, friends, lovers coming together, or breaking apart. This, ultimately, is who we are. Following in the footsteps of Brillat-Savarin, Adam Gopnik gently satirizes the entire human comedy of the comestible as he surveys the wide worlds of taste that we have lately made our home. The Table Comes First is the delightful beginning of a new conversation about the way we eat now.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
You eat, I eat, we all eat, and most of us enjoy food. Some of us love it, but few think about it philosophically, which is precisely what The New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik gives us an opportunity to do with The Table Comes First. For this reader Gopnik is an erudite, witty, entertaining essayist and he exercises those talents to their fullest with his book subtitled "Family, France, and the Meaning of Food."

The intriguing title stems from a quote by the British chef Fergus Henderson. Shortly after the bombings of London Henderson is apparently confounded by young couples who were buying television sets or sofas. He says, I don't understand, don't they know the table comes first?" It surely does for Gopnik who is near to eulogizing an entree, a dessert, a cut of meat.

Dividing his book into four sections Gopnik begins his discussion with a history of the restaurant beginning in eighteenth century France. While it is accepted that the French Revolution was close to ruinous for the arts, a gastronome of the time wrote "...that was not the case with cooking, far from having suffered as a result, it has the Revolution to thank for its rapid progress and motive force."

Part Two, "Choosing at the Table" examines our choices of food whether from a restaurant menu or in a market planning meal at home. "Talking at the Table" is the heading of Part Three, and consists of such intriguing topics as "What Do We Imagine When We Imagine Food?" and "What Do We Write About When We Write About Food?" The concluding section's focus is Leaving the Table as well as a few notes on cooking. One of my favorites is "Cooking is the faith that raw ingredients can be conjured into a nightly miracle."

The Table Comes First is a must for gourmets, gourmands, foodies - in short it's a delight. Gopnik is a highly intellectual writer who writes with a light touch - a very satisfying combination.

- Gail Cooke
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Portes on 17 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book which reads like a collection of articles is amusing and informative. It's good for dipping into piecemeal and has some interesting historical background as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jon Verheecke on 27 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's not a cook book but a philisofical book about cooking and eating. A real eye opener. I loved every word of it.I would recomend it to everyone who wants to think about food and eating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rosie Pike on 17 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was requested as a christmas present and the recipient was very pleased with it and has enjoyed reading it!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Siciliano on 11 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Eat this book!

How far things have come since Yippie philosopher Abbie Hoffman's publisher invited consumers to "Steal This Book," by giving it that very title.

Maybe author Adam Gopnik remembers former French President Francois Mitterand remarking that the United States was "a country waiting to be entertained" when he launched a body of work that mixed food and literature quite so lovingly.

A few chapters into "The Table Comes First," and you may very well try to eat it, or at least take a crack at one of the half-recipes he drops in throughout the essay.

It may be the case that the enjoyment of Gopnik's book rises inversely as one's familiarity with "food writing" drops. That was the case here. highwayscribery cannot say if the food talk contained is food news, only that everything else about it was fun.

Subtitling his essay, "Family, France, and the Meaning of Food," the author stakes out a large swath of human interest and then highlights the ties binding food to our larger life.

"The Table Comes First," passes from the particular (food) to the universal, reading in the tea leaves of peoples' food choices their politics, history, culture, the French Revolution, and the reasons for Catalonian cuisine (to name a few).

In doing so, the book becomes something for everybody, which is somewhat the point: Everybody loves food.

By way of one example, Gopnik discusses a "rule of three" he applies to cooking and life-living.

"Is there a pattern of making here, more universal than it might at first seem?" he asks.
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