Feeding a Yen
Calvin Trillin is of course a national treasure and reading his musings on food is almost as satisfying as eating the food he is lusting for. Almost. Of course there are few people who get the enjoyment out of eating even their most treasured foods that Trillin does. He seems to experience food on a different level than you or I. He is truly a food Buddha and the rest of us are just wandering in the wilderness trying to find the temple.
I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw it and I'm still not sure why it took me so long to actually get to it. The level of anguish in Trillin's voice is so high that it may be safer to just read the essays individually. As one wanders through them, Trillin's pain is palpable as he recounts the treasures that are on his Register of Frustration and Deprivation, a list of foods that only seem to be available in a tiny geographical area many time zones distant from Trillin's Manhattan. Even when something is within his grasp though, like the gnarly pumpernickel bagels right in his own back yard, they seem to slip away from him, and his loss becomes our gain in the essay devoted to the search for them.
The list of foods that Trillin is desperately seeking is neither exotic nor expensive. I can't really get too exited by most of these -- pan bagnats, boudin, posole, caribbean fried fish, ceviche, and fish tacos -- but I could never tire of reading his musings about them. My favorite essay was entitled Pepper Chase in which Trillin recounts his love affair with pimientos de Padron and his consumption of more of them in a week than most people will consume in a lifetime. Highly recommended.