Memorial Day Weekend Reading: Food Biography

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For your holiday enjoyment, two very different biographies: one famous chef and one forgotten entrepreneur who invented frozen vegetables.

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Alexis Madrigal.

A couple of books, just in. Happy reading!

Kurlansky, Mark. Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man, Doubleday, 2012.

Kurlansky is the author of several distinguished books, notably Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, and Salt: A World History. Here, he takes up the story of Clarence Birdseye, the man who invented and gave his name to frozen vegetables. Anything that Kurlansky writes is worth reading, and Birdseye--an multitasking explorer, trapper, and inventor--is worth writing about. The book is illustrated with Birdseye's patent drawings.

Thomas McNamee, The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance, Free Press, 2012.

I thought McNamee's previous biography, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, was a great read, wonderfully gossipy and entertaining. Like so many others, I learned to cook from Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook. In 1980, I met Claiborne while doing a segment of an Over Easy program on San Francisco's public television station, KQED. Claiborne has recently had some health problems, had been told to eat better and lose some weight, and had just published Craig Claiborne's Gourmet Diet with Pierre Franey (with an introduction to principles of healthy eating by Jane Brody). He cooked lemon chicken. I commented on how healthy it was. Claiborne was a fascinating character and McNamee's account makes me wish I'd been part of the New York food scene back then.

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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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