One of my absolute favorite authors is Anthony Bourdain. The guy is a genius with the written word. He's sometimes crass, often funny, and molds words with the ease of a poet. And he talks about food. It's a win-win.
So, when I saw Adam Richman (from Man v. Food fame) had a book out, I was eager to read it. On the show he seems charismatic, funny, and there's no doubting his excitement about food. The book must be great, right?
Not quite ready to pay the $25.99 sticker price for the hardcover, I passed on the book--just like we regretfully sometimes pass on that last slice of pie fully knowing you'll be back. As luck would have it, I was at the dollar store and lo, "America the Edible" was available for a buck. Boo-yeah! I saved $25!
Finally having read the book, I can say I learned many things from "America the Edible." Here they are in no particular order:
1. I am not as cool as Adam Richman: Neither are you. Neither is anyone for that matter. In fact, I don't think even he is as cool as he thinks he is. Do you remember that kid in school (everybody had at least one) who would tell you stories about how cool he was? Like the time he drove his father's Corvette and he was only six? Or when the Globetrotters went to his house for his birthday party? And you thought, "Wait a minute, I went to his birthday party and he had a poster of the Globetrotters--they didn't actually go there." Well, Adam comes off as that guy.
The book starts out with him in Los Angeles waiting for a call from his agent. He makes sure to blast you in the face with a couple of hard yet awkwardly used cuss words, just so you can get the picture that he's "'da bad boy from Brooklyn," not the sweet, unassuming gentleman in M v. F. (Wouldn't want to get them confused.) He takes you through his morning workout: fifty push-ups, seven sun salutations, cobra stretch, fifty leg raises, a hundred crunches, twenty-five twisting crunches to either side... Hold on, did he just write "a hundred" crunches? I've seen his show and the vast quantity of deep fried foods he consumes, a hundred crunches seemed like a stretch. All that was missing from his yoga/workout were the Globetrotters.
2. Momma always said not to kiss and tell: An alternate title to this book could be, "America the Erotic: A Horny History, from Bed to Sleazy Bed." Adam spends about as much time describing his women partners as he does the food he eats. In fact, sometimes the line blurs between the two and women are described like food while food is described like sex. There were a couple of times I actually cringed while reading, specifically when he says he wants to "have sex with a lobster roll." The last thing I want when reading about food is to have a visual of a chubby dude doing it with a sandwich. Come on. The chapters are full of "chance encounters" and "hook ups" with breathtakingly beautiful young women who are soft on the eyes and drink like hardened sailors. Did Adam mention the Globetrotters were at his birthday party? Thank goodness he doesn't go into gory details about his adventures with the women, other than when they're eating together. He has some sort of fixation on feeding and being fed by these "scorching hot" women. By the time I was halfway through the book I was so tired of his manly conquests and "puppy love" moping after things didn't work out that I almost put the book down... but couldn't. (DARN MY OCD!)
3. The Adam Richman drinking game: I don't drink. Let me rephrase that. I don't drink alcohol. (I almost started while reading this book--not to follow all of his "stellar" drinking advice, but to wash the dry heaves and disgust from my mouth.) I did have a great idea for a drinking game, though. Every time Adam refers to food using a sexual-metaphor OR every time he describes a food with the verb "orgasmic," you take a drink. Believe me, by the time people hit the last page EVERYONE would be giving the book 5 1/2 stars and leave a gratuity on the bar. I'm sorry, but "orgasmic" is not my first choice of adjectives, especially when it comes to food.
4. Talking about adjectives: One of my favorite descriptions of the whole book was when Adam described the lobster he was eating as "lobstery." If that's all it takes to be a great food critic, then sign me up. "The beefy beef patty was a great counterpoint to the lettucy lettuce and tomatoes that were almost tomatoey. All in all, the hamburger was downright hamburgery." Adam's other favorite words are "nutty," "buttery," and "almost." Everything tasted nutty or buttery or almost nutty or almost buttery followed by the authors described groans of ecstasy. Gag.
To be fair, there were some things I liked. Adam embraces diversity, both with food and culture. I love that about him. He praises foreign food as much as he does American staples. There is no question this guy loves food and he loves the people, cities and cultures he shares his time with. The guy gets excited about things and I find his excitement admirable. It's nice to read a book that expounds upon the positives of something instead of focusing on the negative. (Yes, I see the irony of writing that at the end of my mostly negative review.)
All in all, if I were you, I'd skip this book. Read Anthony Bourdain if you want edgy food books. Save your $25.99! If you want the Adam Richman you see on TV, shun the book and keep watching Man v. Food reruns. Enjoy the spunky, sweet, teddy-bear Adam who dominates the screen and seems a little awkward and blushes when pretty girls are around. Best to keep him that way in your mind and heart. I'll still watch his program, but I know I will always see the womanizing, over-sexed, overly cool Adam Richman behind the innocent foody facade. And that makes me feel a little sad.
I want my dollar back.