The Tastemakers by David Saxon was an interesting and humorous read.
This insightful book delved into food crazes and their origins, how the agriculture and marketing parts fit in and how they weave together.
Cupcakes dominate the beginning chapter. I never thought of the reason they seemed so popular these days. In some cases, they are a popular choice for weddings instead of a traditional wedding cake. How does that happen? Well, David Saxon will tell you. It’s a craze that started before Sex in the City (a misconception I had about the cupcake popularity). His research is well done and not a dry recounting of facts. He’s quite humorous actually. As you read about the accidental popularity of the cupcake and it’s rise to fame you’ll find you want one more than ever.
Marketing and business sections explain the economics of bacon. Yes, the meat that has become a star ingredient in its own right in everything from breakfast to dinner to desserts. An explanation of marketing and pork belly futures isn’t boring. Well, not the way Saxon presents it. Usually I hear the word bacon and someone (me included at times) will quote Homer Simpson; “Mmmmmm……..bacon….” in a dreamy tone.
I liked this part in the book where he talks about people embracing a particular food or diet because another culture, who eats XYZ, is healthy and long lived.
“We also buy into a narrative…that simplifies a complicated lifestyle down to a single ingredient. The seductive power of many of these super foods lies in their place in remote, somewhat mystical cultures. Whether it’s the longevity of Greek goat herders, Okinawan fisherman, Amazonian tribesmen, or Mexican tribal joggers, the tremendous difference between their health and ours has a hell of a lot more to do with the fact that we drive cars, sit at computers, and have access to super-sized sodas than the fact that they eat yogurt, salmon, acai, or chia…”
Right?! I am not a goat herder. I drive to work and sit in front of a computer a good portion of my day. While I limit my intake of fast foods and convenience foods, my American lifestyle is vastly different from an Okinawan fisherman. Back when the Mediterranean diet was all the rage there were always the folks who thought adding olive oil and drinking red wine would transform their health and waistline.
This non-fiction appraisal of food trends is an easy read. It also had me go to one of the popular local cupcake shops. Smallcakes in Tallahassee Florida has it going on!
They have some amazing cupcakes and different specials every day. After reading The Tastemakers I was aware of 3 different specialty cupcake shops in my area. Didn’t even think about it before reading this book.
Let’s hope this doesn’t become a habit!
Coincidentally, Tallahassee Florida is mentioned in the last chapter where Saxon talks about fondue. The Melting Pot restaurant has been in business here for as long I remember living here. It started in the underground section under a popular seafood/oyster joint called Barnacle Bill’s. Now it’s located in a big stand-alone restaurant on Monroe Street in Tallahassee.
What Saxon write about the fondue restaurant is absolutely true. It seems a by gone fad but it is the place I think of for celebrations and very special events. As our 30th wedding anniversary is approaching (this June) we may just enjoy a long evening at The Melting Pot.
Kudos to David Saxon for producing an informative and enjoyable book about the food fashions and trends. Will have to check out his other books now.
Adding my review to Goodreads and Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series. This book was on my list for the The Eclectic Reader Book Challenge
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