The Man Who Changed The Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance

Thomas McNamee. Free Press, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4391-91507
McNamee argues for Claiborne’s significance in connecting home cooking, fine dining, and classic and ethnic foods in the postwar period in this often light and uneven biography. Despite poor Mississippi Delta beginnings balanced by gracious Southern food and manners, the sensitive, misfit Claiborne (1920–2000) went on to college then served in the Navy during WWII. Navy intelligence service exposed him to broader sensory and sexual experiences. He later enrolled in a Swiss hospitality school and returned to New York, set on becoming the New York Times first male food editor. Freelancing led to public relations work whose perks included fine dining at leading gastronomic temples and that dream job at the Times. Claiborne’s long professional and personal relationship with Pierre Franey and the 1961 publication of his New York Times Cook Book launched him on a broader platform just ahead of Julia Child, eventually leading to his regular bylined restaurant reviews. Professional success sometimes countered the ups and downs of Claiborne’s private life, particularly those related to sexuality and alcohol.. Agent, David McCormick. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 05/08/2012
Genre: Nonfiction

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