“This wasn’t about trying to convert people around me into not eating out,” writes Cathy Erway in The Art of Eating In, which we profile in this edition. But intention or no, that’s just the effect her book had on me; thirty pages into her description of the two years she spent forsaking food she hadn’t cooked herself, I was hell-bent on a restaurant fast, and that’s saying something considering that I make my living, and my life, chronicling the pursuit of meaningful food experiences.
Her vow of eat-out abstinence inspired me, not because I dislike restaurants (quite the opposite) but because I wanted to appreciate the experience the way she did post-experiment.
Then I read the Dressler story and before you could say “fall from grace” I was on the phone to deputy editor Rachel, who wrote the mouthwatering profile, to ask if she wanted to head there for lunch. (But I cooked dinner that night. Promise.)
I wasn’t always so devoid of willpower. Back in seventh grade I read my mother’s copy of Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet, which laid plain the folly of feeding grain to livestock and connected the dots between meat consumption and global hunger. Overnight I became a committed vegetarian, and stayed one until my late 20s-when I fell in love with a meat farmer. (Pastured. Promise.)
And now I’m devouring Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, the new book by Lappé’s daughter, Anna, who traded Berkeley for Brooklyn but follows in her mother’s eco-exposé footsteps. Her painstaking research traces a whopping third of planet-warming emissions to our industrial food system, and while the news isn’t good, the read is riveting. In my interview with her, she likens the polluter politics to cigarette companies’ specious spin. Hopefully industrial ingredients will be banned in restaurants and bars, too. Here’s to inspiring reads!
PS My appetite’s almost insatiable, but unfortunately I’ve got some crow to eat. In my last letter from the editor I gave a shout out to every member of our staff but one, so here’s an open apology to our secret-weapon copy editor Carrington Morris: Carrington, you are a shining star and I couldn’t do it without you. My omission was awful but my love for you is sincere. Promise.
Polish pork at Greenpoint’s Mazur Meat Market.