Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink

Edited by David Remnick

Henri is fit to be tied! A new anthology of essays and short stories has just been published purporting to include some of the best writing about food and drink from the past 75 years. Oh, really? Sure, there are some marginally well-penned pieces by M.F.K. Fisher, S.J. Perlman, Ogden Nash, John McPhee, Calvin Trillon, Susan Orlean, Italo Calvino, Woody Allen, Louise Erdrich, Steve Martin, Don DeLillo and Anthony Bourdain, as well an amusing little Jim Harrison story about a 37-course lunch based on meals from 17 cookbooks published between 1654 and 1823. And the pieces by John Cheever and Roger Angell about gin and martinis are, well, readable. I guess. But excusez moi! Nothing by Henri? Of course, Mr. Editorman justifies his selections by explaining that the pieces all originally appeared in The New Yorker magazine. But sacre bleu! The book is 600 pages long! Certainly he could have made one exception. A Chow column from the CN&R would have gone a long way toward providing the collection with the value and credibility it so conspicuously lacks. One-and-a-half forks.