4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The year of eating food they didn't serve at boarding school?,
This review is from: The Year of Eating Dangerously: A Global Adventure in Search of Culinary Extremes (Hardcover)
I'll confess now; I didn't finish this book. I think I got about as far as Korea. It wasn't a case of being so terrible I threw it down in a fit of pique, it's just I had more gripping things to read at the time and it got put to one side, forgotten about and then disappeared in a house move. Normally if this happened it would vex me greatly and I'd make a point of procuring another copy so I could finish it but in this case... meh. I just didn't bother.
It's not that Tom Parker-Bowles is a terrible writer... he's just not a very good one. As one of the other reviewers notes; writing well about food is very hard to do. You need to have a real way with words to describe taste; to capture the subtleties and nuances of a mouthful of food from the first punchy flavours, to the less obvious hints of seasoning , to the lingering aftertaste.
Probably you should also have an in-depth knowledge of your subject. I didn't get much of a sense of this from this book either. The "dangerous" foods weren't exactly life threatening (excluding potentially the puffer fish...). Mostly they were just outside the norms of the English diet or in some cases mildly icky. All in all, the foods he choose to write about seemed fairly pedestrian. What is the one "crazy food" Koreans are known for? Dog. What is the one "extreme" thing everyone knows about Mexican food? Chillies. Come on Tom, surely there was something you could have found to investigate in the American diet that was a bit more interesting than really-seriously-quite-large servings of barbequed meat? (although perhaps, in some ways, this does actually fulfil the "dangerous" brief better then most of his subjects...)
I felt like there just wasn't all that much research done prior to embarking on this book; it took the most obvious choice at every turn.
Parker-Bowles just doesn't have the eloquence or originality to write well about food, nor does he have the knowledge base or wealth of interesting anecdotes and insightful trivia to mitigate his lack of style. What he does have is a name publishers knew would sell books regardless.
That said, the book itself was fairly harmless. It wasn't going to rock anyone's world but it certainly wasn't the worst book ever published. Except for one thing.... (and this is the thing that really wound me up about this book....)
The subediting (or astounding lack thereof).
This book was so full of typos, mis-punctuation and even use of the wrong there/their/they'res (that most hateful of pet hates!) that several times I found myself scouring the liner notes, convinced I must somehow have wound up with an un-edited proof copy. But no, this was the actual final (hardcover!) product.
Not great work from the author but unforgivably sloppy work on behalf of the publishers, who really should have known better.
The Year of Eating Dangerously: A Global Adventure in Search of Culinary Extremes