Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trillin
Savoring Local Specialties, from Kansas City to Cuzco

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Synopsis

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Calvin Trillin's Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin.

Calvin Trillin has never been a champion of the “continental cuisine” palaces he used to refer to as La Maison de la Casa House—nor of their successors, the trendy spots he calls “sleepy-time restaurants, where everything is served on a bed of something else.” What he treasures is the superb local specialty. And he will go anywhere to find one.

As it happens, some of Trillin’s favorite dishes—pimientos de Padrón in northern Spain, for instance, or pan bagnat in Nice or posole in New Mexico—can’t be found anywhere but in their place of origin. Those dishes are on his Register of Frustration and Deprivation. “On gray afternoons, I go over it,” he writes, “like a miser who is both tantalizing and tormenting himself by poring over a list of people who owe him money.” On brighter afternoons, he calls his travel agent.

Trillin shares charming and funny tales of managing to have another go at, say, fried marlin in Barbados or the barbecue of his boyhood in Kansas City. Sometimes he returns with yet another listing for his Register—as when he travels to Ecuador for ceviche, only to encounter fanesca, a soup so difficult to make that it “should appear on an absolutely accurate menu as Potage Labor Intensive.”

We join the hunt for the authentic fish taco. We tag along on the “boudin blitzkrieg” in the part of Louisiana where people are accustomed to buying boudin and polishing it off in the parking lot or in their cars (“Cajun boudin not only doesn’t get outside the state, it usually doesn’t even get home”). In New York, we follow Trillin as he roams Queens with the sort of people who argue about where to find the finest Albanian burek and as he tries to use a glorious local specialty, the New York bagel, to lure his daughters back from California (“I understand that in some places out there if you buy a dozen wheat-germ bagels you get your choice of a bee-pollen bagel or a ginseng bagel free”).

Feeding a Yen is a delightful reminder of why New York magazine called Calvin Trillin “our funniest food writer.”
 

About Calvin Trillin

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Calvin Trillin, who became The Nation’s “deadline poet” in 1990, has also written verse on the events of the day for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and National Public Radio. His political beliefs are so colored by rhyme and meter that he once criticized Hillary Clinton for being “insufficiently iambic” and publicly advised against a presidential run by the governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. He is the author of Obliviously on He Sails and A Heckuva Job.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published May 6, 2003 by Random House. 218 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Cooking, Science & Math, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Feeding a Yen

Kirkus Reviews

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to all those bistros and neighborhood markets that fill him up in ways the more famous destinations never do, those temples where he “can’t seem to help wondering, when [his] mind wanders between forkfuls, whether God really intended all that to be done to food.” Likewise, Trillin is willing to p...

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Publishers Weekly

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These 14 essays—which first appeared in the New Yorker and other magazines but have been reworked to form a cohesive whole—nearly all grow out of T

Apr 07 2003 | Read Full Review of Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local...

Publishers Weekly

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These 14 essays—which first appeared in the New Yorker and other magazines but have been reworked to form a cohesive whole—nearly all grow out of Trillin's concept of a "register of frustration and deprivation."

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Book Reporter

Trillin writes about good, simple food, food rooted to specific locations by tradition as much as by the availability of the necessary ingredients.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local...

About.com

These are foods that comprise Trillin's "Register of Frustration and Deprivation," foods that can't be found outside of their place of origin..."> Calvin Trillin loves to eat, and he eats well.

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