BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Calvin Trillin's Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin .
Calvin Trillin has never been a champion of the “continental cuisine” palaces he used to refer to as La Maison de la Casa House—nor of their successors, the trendy spots he calls “sleepy-time restaurants, where everything is served on a bed of something else.” What he treasures is the superb local specialty. And he will go anywhere to find one.
As it happens, some of Trillin’s favorite dishes—pimientos de PadrÓn in northern Spain, for instance, or pan bagnat in Nice or posole in New Mexico—can’t be found anywhere but in their place of origin. Those dishes are on his Register of Frustration and Deprivation. “On gray afternoons, I go over it,” he writes, “like a miser who is both tantalizing and tormenting himself by poring over a list of people who owe him money.” On brighter afternoons, he calls his travel agent.
Trillin shares charming and funny tales of managing to have another go at, say, fried marlin in Barbados or the barbecue of his boyhood in Kansas City. Sometimes he returns with yet another listing for his Register—as when he travels to Ecuador for ceviche, only to encounter fanesca, a soup so difficult to make that it “should appear on an absolutely accurate menu as Potage Labor Intensive.”
We join the hunt for the authentic fish taco. We tag along on the “boudin blitzkrieg” in the part of Louisiana where people are accustomed to buying boudin and polishing it off in the parking lot or in their cars (“Cajun boudin not only doesn’t get outside the state, it usually doesn’t even get home”). In New York, we follow Trillin as he roams Queens with the sort of people who argue about where to find the finest Albanian burek and as he tries to use a glorious local specialty, the New York bagel, to lure his daughters back from California (“I understand that in some places out there if you buy a dozen wheat-germ bagels you get your choice of a bee-pollen bagel or a ginseng bagel free”).
Feeding a Yen is a delightful reminder of why New York magazine called Calvin Trillin “our funniest food writer.”
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|Title of eBook: Feeding a Yen|
|Release Date: 05-06-2003|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Feeding a Yen
Not long after the turn of the millennium, I had an extended father-daughter conversation with my older daughter, Abigail, on the way back from a dim sum lunch in Chinatown. Abigail, who was living in San Francisco, had come to New York to present a paper at a conference. As a group of us trooped back toward our house in Greenwich Village, where she'd grown up, Abigail and I happened to be walking together. "Let's get this straight, Abigail," I said, after we'd finished off some topic and had gone along in silence for a few yards. "If I can find those gnarly little dark pumpernickel bagels that we used to get at Tanenbaum's, you'll move back to New York. Right?"
"Absolutely," Abigail said.
There's a great comfort in realizing that a child you've helped rear has grown up with her priorities straight. When I phoned Abigail from the Oakland airport once to ask if she knew of an alternative route to her house in San Francisco-I'd learned of a huge traffic jam on the normal route, toward the Bay Bridge-she said, "Sure. Go south on 880, take 92 west across the bridge to 101, and we'll meet you at Fook Yuen for lunch." Fook Yuen is a dim sum restaurant in Millbrae, about five minutes from the San Francisco airport, and its way with a dumpling has persuaded us that flights in and out of San Francisco are best scheduled in the middle of the day. I report this response to a traffic jam as a way of demonstrating not simply that Abigail always has a fallback career as a taxi dispatcher awaiting her but also that she has the sort of culinary standards that could induce her to switch coasts if the right bagel came alo