Adipose Nation

The first "Fannie Farmer Cookbook," officially titled The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, was published on this day in 1896. In her Preface, Farmer hopes that her book will promote interest among Americans in "the study of foods and their dietetic value":

At the earnest solicitation of educators, pupils, and friends, I have been urged to prepare this book, and I trust it may be a help to many who need its aid. It is my wish that it may not only be looked upon as a compilation of tried and tested recipes, but that it may awaken an interest through its condensed scientific knowledge which will lead to deeper thought and broader study of what to eat.

Over a century later, Farmer might share the pessimistic assessment of contemporary American dietary habits offered by John Robbins in his recent No Happy Cows. Robbins attributes the current problem not to lack of food knowledge but to a "cultural trance" and to "political cowardice," which have combined to lead us away from "foods that are truly nutritious, affordable and produced in a sustainable way," and toward a medical and economic crisis: "We have the distinction of having become the fattest major nation in the history of the world and, with each passing year, we are becoming noticeably fatter."

 


Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.

 

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.