The Food Snob's Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Gastronomical Knowledge
by David Kamp
This compact book wasn't exactly what I was expecting. Given that it's a dictionary obstensibly for "food snobs," you might think it would show them some respect. But this dictionary, while quite informative, was completely irreverent and downright snarky. To be honest, I really found myself chuckling as I read the entries.
The "definitions" included culinary terms (molecular gastronomy, artisanal, crudo), procedures (brining, expedite, plating), famous chefs (Alice Waters, Marcus Gavius Apicus, James Beard), gourmet foods (speck, crepinette, fennel pollen), food purveyors (Dirty Girl Produce, Cowgirl Creamery, Niman Ranch), and kitchen equipment (bain-marie, All-Clad, Global Knives). Often, the word being defined is used in an illuminating sentence, such as, "Ever since Chef got his own TV show, he hardly ever cooks anymore; basically, he comes in two nights a week just to EXPEDITE and scream at us like a dick." Oh, and did I mention the foul language? Didn't offend me in the least. Actually, it cracked me up, but that's me.
Aside from the humor, there is a lot of good information here for the person looking to learn about both current trends and culinary history. As a San Franciscan, I was impressed by how many local food purveyors these New York authors included in their book. But they're not just bi-coastal, the mid-west was represented as well. If you're interested in the subject, this book is worth picking up to assess your personal snobbery quotient--or perhaps potential.