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Review: It Must've Been Something I Ate

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It Must've Been Something I Ate
By Jeffrey Steingarten
ISBN: 0375412808
Publisher: Knopf
Publication date: Nov. 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
List price: $27.50   (Canada, UK)
Type: Food Essays
Sample recipe: Chocolat Chaud, A Perfectly Fine Ungrilled Steak, Alsatian Roast Goose, Gratin Dauphinois
intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive Biblical stature coffee-table
competition: outclassed also-ran midrange strong challenger leads the pack
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 >300
practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% >80%
# of ingredients: <3 <6 <9 <12 >12
ingredient hunt: 7-11 pantry supermarket online airfare required
recipe complexity: baby steps simple medium intense professional
instructions: inadequate bare bones full figured educational verbose
time conscious: outright lies speed of light fairly quick takes time takes all day
photos/drawings: skimpy adequate generous instructive glorious
recipe results: dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
flavor quotient: disappointing fair good delicious exceptional
layout: ick cluttered clean kind to cooks work of art
legibility: microscopic challenging adequate clear brilliant
production quality: cheesy questionable years of service gift-quality stunning
value: ouch! a little pricey on the money excellent worth splurging
Ease of Use
page numbers: invisible hard to find spotty adequate obvious
table of contents: missing frustrating passable useful helpful
index quality: none tragic adequate good excellent
page flipping: infuriating tedious acceptable rare never
writer: hack cook turned writer writer turned cook comedian auteur
cook: self-taught non-restaurant chef teacher celebrity
overall rating: fair good above average excellent Ochef Top 100

Not a cookbook by any stretch of the imagination, It Must've Been Something I Ate, is a compilation of the monthly food essays Jeffrey Steingarten writes for Vogue magazine. Yes, there are a couple dozen recipes, some of which are delicious and well within the scope of an average cook, some of which would be daunting to all but the most adventurous cook.

But the essays, which cover such varied topics as monosodium glutamate, making dog food, caviar, sea salt, diets, blood sausage, the absolutely authentic pot au feu, Thai cuisine, and some 30 other topics, are interesting, informative, opinionated, well-researched, funny, far-reaching, self-deprecating, and exceptionally well written. A person barely interested in cooking could easily be captivated by this book. A person with a real interest in food and cooking absolutely should read it.

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