The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner Paperback – 30 Apr 2009
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'Thoroughly entertaining and often hilarious' (Heston Blumenthal)
'Laugh out loud funny' (Charles Spencer, Guardian)
'A witty world tour of gastronomic culture from Las Vegas to Tokyo and everywhere worth visiting in between' ( Scotland on Sunday )
'A genuine book... not a collection of recycled articles, but a piece of vivid food and travel writing based on research' (Observer Review)
Award-winning journalist, writer and broadcaster Jay Rayner takes on the world in this witty and erudite account of his search for the perfect dinnerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
But he has a lot of acute and important observations to make about the fine dining restaurant business, and like another reviewer, I was particularly appreciative of his comments re: Ramsay et al, and global brand domination, and insights into the dubious world of the Moscow restaurant scene. This all sounds very dull - in his skilled hands, it really isn't, it's absolutely compelling, and good to know someone (thankfully a warrior-sized someone) is pointing the finger.
I don't agree that Rayner likes restaurants populated by stick-thin posh types - in fact, he repeatedly asks questions about the nature of who it is that eats in top-class restaurants, and whether or not they are the kind who would most appreciate what it is that they are eating, and paying top dollar for. And he's scrupulously honest about his own membership to this elite club, and what that means about him, and his future eating habits and pleasures.
This reads like a novel in some ways (which makes sense, I guess), in that Rayner goes on a journey, there's a learning curve. He starts out starry-eyed, ambitious, somewhat in thrall to the restaurant auteurs, but falls out of love on more than one occasion with them, with the excesses and wastage that attend fine dining, and with writing about food for a living. He challenges himself. He has revelations. He is humbled.Read more ›
That said, this book feels like a set of reviews fashioned into a gastronomic journey rather than a solid book with plenty of added food details. He eats at all the top places in the World and often his narrative seems like just an excuse to go on to the next venue rather than a passionate need to explore the unknown pleasures of the city he visits (pleasures he is already well acquainted with one feels).
The writing as usual is good and it's an easy to pick up hard to put down type of book. The point lost is for the structure, that is a little too obvious.
Initially I had admired his honesty, stating why he went for this kind of food snobbery, when others might find it distasteful - he stuck with his guns. But as his journeys continued the veneer of reason began to fade and the hedonism became ugly. Rayner goes on a Michelin-nosh one-night crawl in New York with an uber-rich author of a foodie blog. At one point, a waiter who has the temerity to be unaware of their magnificent plan, and who tries to offer them "cocktails and menus" - as if they'd need menus! - is "got rid of". It left a nasty taste in my mouth, as did their celebrations when meals were declared 'on the house'.
Increasingly the author dreams up gimmicky plans - the NY crawl, seven three-star restaurants in as many days in Paris - to avoid this feeling like a sequence of reviews, and a sense of gluttony creeps in. I went off Rayner. (As for the reviews on the cover - 'Laugh-out-loud funny' and 'Often hilarious' - I'm afraid my lips failed to curl upwards once, but then humour is so subjective.)
On the positive side, I did make it to the end, purely on the strength of the author's way with words. Were he to invite me out for a Michelin meal, even if he picked up the bill, I'd have to pass. Admittedly the invitation seems unlikely.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful expose of the word of the poor, hard done by, restaurant reviewer. Loved every page.Published 19 months ago by Eric
Jay's writing makes me laugh out loud, then go to the fridge, and gorge myself silly. He's one of my favourite food writers... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Mr Ian Hawkins
Absolutely loved reading this. It was highly entertaining and also educational. Jay Rayner has a real gift with words.Published on 22 July 2014 by S Crothers
The perfect Christmas gift for an avid Jay Rayner fan. Went down very well, looking forward to reading it myself!Published on 23 April 2014 by Charlie
As a huge fan of Jay Rayner's Guardian column I couldn't wait to get my hands on this - and my, it didn't just live up to expectations, it exceeded them. Read morePublished on 9 Oct. 2013 by webber
Ignorance is a state of being uninformed . The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware of his/her lack og knowledge. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2013 by Alma Hodzic
Not sure what I was expecting when I started this, interesting enough read about the author's search for the perfect meal however it got a little bit tedious and thankfully he also... Read morePublished on 30 Jan. 2013 by F Keegan
Rayner may dismiss the 'cult of authenticity' but his absolute worship of the cult of exclusivity means that all you get from this book is a snobby and self-indulgent account of... Read morePublished on 13 May 2012 by Adds