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It Must've Been Something I Ate

Cover of It Must've Been Something I Ate

It Must've Been Something I Ate

The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything

In this outrageous and delectable new volume, the Man Who Ate Everything proves that he will do anything to eat everything. That includes going fishing for his own supply of bluefin tuna belly; nearly incinerating his oven in pursuit of the perfect pizza crust, and spending four days boning and stuffing three different fowl--into each other-- to produce the Cajun specialty called "turducken."

It Must've Been Something I Ate finds Steingarten testing the virtues of chocolate and gourmet salts; debunking the mythology of lactose intolerance and Chinese Food Syndrome; roasting marrow bones for his dog , and offering recipes for everything from lobster rolls to gratin dauphinois. The result is one of those rare books that are simultaneously mouth-watering and side-splitting.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

In this outrageous and delectable new volume, the Man Who Ate Everything proves that he will do anything to eat everything. That includes going fishing for his own supply of bluefin tuna belly; nearly incinerating his oven in pursuit of the perfect pizza crust, and spending four days boning and stuffing three different fowl--into each other-- to produce the Cajun specialty called "turducken."

It Must've Been Something I Ate finds Steingarten testing the virtues of chocolate and gourmet salts; debunking the mythology of lactose intolerance and Chinese Food Syndrome; roasting marrow bones for his dog , and offering recipes for everything from lobster rolls to gratin dauphinois. The result is one of those rare books that are simultaneously mouth-watering and side-splitting.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    TORO, TORO, TORO Aft here, drive 'em aft," I shouted. "Call all hands! Man the capstan! Blood and thunder! Lower away . . . and after him!"I stood before the mirror in my bedroom, admiring my new outfit and rehearsing the handful of nautical phrases I had collected from my dog-eared copy of Moby-Dick. Soon I would be jetting toward Ensenada on the Pacific coast of Baja California, where I would set out upon an epic hunt for . . . the giant bluefin!

    Why the bluefin? Simply because the raw meat from its belly is one of the most delicious things on Earth. Isn't that enough?

    Bluefin are tuna, one of about 13 species, depending on who is doing the counting. They are among nature's most perfectly designed creatures, one of the largest fish in the sea (1,800 pounds appears to be the record) and among the fastest (capable of bursts as high as 56 miles an hour). Bluefin are able to navigate from Japan to California and back, from the Caribbean to Norway-they have binocular vision, acute hearing, sensors in their skin for pressure and temperature, and magnetic particles in their body that are thought to act as compasses. They are astonishingly streamlined, with hollows into which their fins retract and flatten at high speeds. Their bodies are 75 percent muscle. From birth until death, bluefin can never stop moving forward. If they did, they would die of suffocation. They are voracious predators, consuming up to 25 percent of their weight each day in sardines, squid, herring, and other living treats. They hunt like wolves, in deadly packs, which we call "schools," to make them seem cuter.

    Bluefin are also the most valuable wild animals on Earth.

    I have read that the world record for one giant bluefin is $83,500, set in 1992 at Tsukiji in Tokyo, the world's largest fish market. This comes to nearly $120 a pound. More typical auction prices these days at Tsukiji (pronounced "skee gee") range from $15 to $40 a pound, a weakness ascribed to Japan's current economic problems. The daily auctions at Tsukiji set the world prices for bluefin, because the Japanese are prepared to pay more than anybody else for their flesh. Whenever you're curious, go to fis.com, click on Market Prices, select Tokyo-Chuo under Far East Prices, and scroll down to Bluefin. I am always curious.

    (Ahi tuna, a name you see printed with pride on most American menus these days, is yellowfin tuna, which the Japanese consider inferior not only to bluefin but also to southern bluefin, bigeye, and albacore, and just ahead of skipjack. "Ahi" is the Hawaiian name for yellowfin. Things Hawaiian have a special cachet in California, which they lack in the rest of the country. California is home of most American tuna canneries and restaurants there were initially fearful that customers were avoiding the dish listed as "grilled tuna." The name ahi was a godsend. On the East Coast, it sounded vaguely Japanese. Boasting of ahi on a menu is like featuring USDA Commercial grade beef at a steak house.)

    The price of a bluefin depends on its size, freshness, and shape (it should be roughly football-shaped, with a swelling underside). Most important is the quality of its flesh, especially the amount and grade of toro-the pink meat from its tender, fatty belly. Bluefin experts at Tsukiji carry a sashibo, a long, thin, hollow metal rod that can be plunged under the gills and right through the fish to extract a sample of its meat, layer by layer, like a geological core.

    The upper half of a bluefin's body consists of rich, shiny red meat called akami, of which the middle section, the naka, is of the highest quality. Between the upper body and the belly is a dark, bloody muscle called the chiai,...

About the Author-
  • Jeffrey Steingarten is Vogue's food critic and the author of The Man Who Ate Everything. He trained to be a food writer at Harvard Law School and on the Harvard Lampoon. On Bastille Day, 1994, the French Republic made Mr. Steingarten a Chevalier in the Order of Merit for his writings on French gastronomy. Chevalier Steingarten discloses that his preferred eating destinations are Memphis, Paris, Bangkok, Alba, and Chengdu--and his loft in New York City, where he has recently created well over a firkin of cultured butter.

    Essays in this collection have won a National Magazine Award and several prizes from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The Man Who Ate Everything was a New York Times best-seller and the winner of the Julia Child Cookbook Award and the Guild of British Food Writers Prize for the year's best book about food.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 9, 2002
    Vogue
    magazine food writer Steingarten picks up where The Man Who Ate Everything
    left off, offering foodies a mouthwatering collection of nearly 40 obsessive essays. "Sometimes, I feel like a giant bluefin, my powerful musculature propelling me around the world in search of food," he explains in an essay about toro, the tender tuna belly used in Japanese cuisine. Equal parts travelogue and investigative reporting, Steingarten's writing is funny, fast-paced and clever. Whether re-creating a perfect plate of coq au vin using rooster procured from a live poultry market, braising ribs for his dog or taste-testing espresso in his Manhattan loft cum laboratory ("Right now there are 14 brand new, state-of-the-art, home espresso makers in my house...."), Steingarten proves himself a true gastronome. Of course, his interest in food goes beyond haute cuisine—freeze-dried foods, hot dog buns, even his beloved Milky Way bars do not escape scrutiny. A few essays aren't even about food. One follows the author's south-of-the-border search for phen-fen; another contemplates New York City's "reservation rat race." Recipes—and only Steingarten could add humor to the form—appear throughout. Devoted readers will savor this collection (many of the essays have won awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals); those unfamiliar with the author will be clamoring for more.

  • The Observer

    "Compelling. . . . It is quite possible that Steingarten knows more about food than any man now eating."

  • Newsday "Whets appetites . . . adventurous, provocative and often rollicking essays."
  • USA Today "Delightful. . . . Employing courageous culinary curiosity and impressive gastronomic stamina, Steingarten happily deconstructs misinformation that hinders us as we cautiously trek to the kitchen of the nearest restaurant."
  • The New York Times "Steingarten's work will stay on the bookshelf long after our passionate colleagues have stopped competing over who can find the best osetra--and not with the food books but with the humor books funny enough to last."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Armed with a sense of adventure, a spymaster's array of fancy gadgets, and a mind that finds it natural to introduce Boccaccio into a discussion of Parmesan cheese, he turns out little thrillers on the riddles of salt and the making of perfect pizza, salutes to chocolate and goose. Steingarten asserts that eaters ask modern cooking to be 'stunning, original, precise, provocative, and very delicious,' and his best prose displays those very qualities."
  • Boston Globe "Like the best food, nourishes and delights."
  • The Sunday Times (London) "Endlessly entertaining and thought-provoking . . . Steingarten moves with boundless authority and wit between the search for a perfect espresso and investigations into why the Chinese don't have all have MSG-induced headaches and whether different types of salt have different flavours. This is food-writing at its succulent best."
  • The Guardian "Erudition, sense of humour, graceful prose, fanatical gluttony-- [Steingarten]'s got it all."
  • Time Out New York "The tireless culinary connoisseur is back in full force. . . . And somehow, during all his pursuits, he manages to remain an entirely likeable food snob--mainly because he's funny, even self-deprecating."
  • Fort Worth Star Telegram "A witty, humorous culinary road trip, even for those with a lesser interest in food. For serious gourmets and gourmands, it is a road trip not to be missed. Read it with a food you love."
  • William Rice, Chicago Tribune "Steingarten may be our most original investigative food writer."
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The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything
Jeffrey Steingarten
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