November 10, 2009
New food writing anthology a savory treat

food cover.jpgThis is a book worth devouring.

It's "The Best Food Writing 2009" (Da Capo Press, $15.95, 348 pages) and by no means is the title a misnomer.

I was lucky enough to have obtained an advanced copy of the book, which hit store shelves this week, and consumed the delectable collection of prose in about two days, putting it down only for little things like work and care of children (although I did catch myself sneaking hits of it while my kids were watching PBS' "Dragon Tales").

The 10th anniversary edition of the book is edited by Holly Hughes and is an anthology of the best culinary writing found in newspapers, books, magazines, Web sites and newsletters from the past year.

Contributors include the likes of The New York Times' Kim Severson, Julia Moskin and Frank Bruni; Food & Wine's Lettie Teague; Gourmet's Ruth Reichl and Molly Wizenberg of the famed Orangette blog and "A Homemade Life" (Simon & Schuster, $25, 336 pages).

One of my personal favorites included in the book was a piece that Eric LeMay penned for Gastronomica about his love of French cheese and his quest to smuggle cheese back to the states.

Follow the link below to read an excerpt of LeMay's story.

Smugglers shouldn't be users. I knew this narcotics-trafficking truism from the crime movies I've imbibed over the years, movies in which an imposing drug lord or cartel jefe has to clean up after some toady who should have delivered three keys of coke but hasn't because, as the squirming toady eventually confesses, "I had to has me a taste!" The cleanup usually involves the toady's skull spattering on a white wall. These scenes always struck me as forced, even for Hollywood. Surely a real trafficker would never let his desire so grossly skewer his judgement. Surely he'd know how it - and he - would end.
Yet, as I walked toward the U.S. Customs Inspectors, with a huge scarlet "A" (for "Animal Products") scrawled on my declaration form and six shrink-wrapped bundles of illegal cheese stuffed in my suitcase, I understand the toady. I didn't care about the inspectors glowering at me above their mustaches or the consequences of breaking a federal law. I cared about the cheese. What if they opened it and spoiled it? What if they took it? Would I have time to jam any of it into my mouth? I had come too far with with, waited too long. I had to has me a taste.
- From "Illegal Cheese" by Eric LeMay

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