2 New Books on Different Ways of Eating Food, American and Not

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Jonathan Deutsch's 'They Eat That?' includes nearly 100 short essays about foods that some consider to be weird, including camel and cavy.

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Jonathan Deutsch and Natalya Murakhver, editors, They Eat That? A Cultural Encyclopedia of Weird and Exotic Food From Around the World, ABC-CLIO, 2012.

The editors, both graduates of my New York University department, got their students, colleagues, and friends to write short essays about nearly 100 foods considered weird, at least by someone. The list includes foods that are anything but weird in other cultures -- seitan, durian, nettles, haggis, huitlaloche, vegemite, but also those hardly ever available to even the most serious eaters. On that list I would put camel, cavy, iguana, and walrus flipper. As for what I would eat, stinky cheese, yes. Urine, no way. The entries put the foods in cultural context and provide references. Most come with recipes. This book is fun.

Tracie McMillan, The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table, Scribner 2012.

McMillan followed the footsteps of Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and went to work at low-wage jobs. She has plenty to say about how hard it is to do them and how little they pay; she provides balance sheets to prove it. Like Ehrenreich, she's a good writer and her stories are compelling. Eating well in America, she says, is difficult -- bordering on impossible -- for people who don't have much money.

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This post originally appeared on Food Politics, an Atlantic partner site.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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