LAST CHANCE TO EAT: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World

Gina Mallet, Author . Norton $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-05841-3

Being a gourmet isn't simply about ferreting out the best victuals; it's also about luxuriating in good food the way others might stroke a new mink coat. Toronto writer Mallet is one such epicure. In this combination of memoir and essay, she balances remembrances of growing up in wartime England with zesty opinions on various foodstuffs ("I don't consider cod a fish at all," she writes. "It's like eating twenty-dollar bills"). Mallet opines that in an era of Big Macs and a dizzying array of snack foods, people don't know what they're missing. Rather than delight in a few gulps of richly flavored raw milk, she laments, consumers today simply go for quantity over quality. Readers of this work will know better, however, since Mallet goes beyond describing comestible ecstasy and digs deep into topics like cheese, beef and fish. Like an excellent dinner guest, Mallet lets her thoughts roam freely, yet always with focus and a dose of intriguing fact. In writing about kitchen gardens, for example, she begins with the loss of her mother's vegetables and herbs from an errant German bomb that destroyed land and greenhouses alike. From there, she chats about Versailles, organic farming and supermarkets. This breadth of insight, mixed with Mallet's childhood memories, makes for a tasty treat. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/14/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Paperback - 255 pages - 978-1-84596-123-7
Hardcover - 255 pages - 978-1-84018-960-5
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-393-34484-4
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