This past weekend the NY Times Book Review also wrote about two new books that survey eating habits in America past. Why all this interest in what our forebears ate? Four books in one year on the subject? Perhaps it has something to do with Michael Pollan's observation in In Defense of Food that we do not have a national identity in our food (our food is an amalgam of the immigrants who populated our shores and the product of extensive engineering by the food industry to satisfy our need for novelty).
The sheer novelty and glamor of the Western diet, with its seventeen thousand new food products every year and the marketing power - thirty-two billion dollars a year - used to sell us those products, has overwhelmed the force of tradition and left us where we now find ourselves: relying on science and journalism and government and marketing to help us decide what to eat. Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto)Perhaps these books are a search for a national cuisine, a tradition to enshrine in the land of McNuggets and Cheese Doodles. I don't know. Having seen raccoon up close and personal (see my blog entry of October 27, 2009) I think I would rather eat the cheese doodle.