If I'm Eating Soy, I'd Rather Know I Am


In this review, Paul Levy makes me want to read the new World of Soy, which it turns out I've been eating even when I had no intention of doing any such thing--in chicken, pork, and all the other animals inefficiently fed on it. I'm also eager to read just about anything written or edited by Sidney Mintz, author of Sweetness and Power, particularly a "brilliant" essay, as Levy calls it, "Fermented Beans and Western Taste", that is included in this omnibus volume, which Mintz co-edited with Christine M. Du Bois. And I'll start seeking out Korean restaurants in Boston that make fresh tofu, as was the rage in New York restaurants a few years ago.

Levy, who has been writing particularly provocative entries in his own blog on the Guardian website, calls attention to the lack of the scholarly arsenals that treating such a vast topic should have. He's been an instrumental part of the Oxford Symposium, the summer meeting that has been the international cradle of food studies; as his review points out, there's a lot more to be done:

Dealing with soy comprehensively requires the attentions of historians, nutritionists, sociologists, anthropologists, economists and specialists in agriculture, plant genetics - and cooks, for if we do not know how soy has been and can be used as human food, and why people would wish to eat it, we lack any fundamental knowledge of it.

I'll think about that the next time I order fresh tofu, though it will take other books to convince me to get it into the kitchen.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
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