The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik
Family, France, and the Meaning of Food

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In all, it’s a book that, in its discussion of cooking, kindles our appetites, which is all a diner, and a reader, could ask.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

Never before have we cared so much about food. It preoccupies our popular culture, our fantasies, and even our moralizing—“You still eat meat?” With our top chefs as deities and finest restaurants as places of pilgrimage, we have made food the stuff of secular seeking and transcendence, finding heaven in a mouthful. But have we come any closer to discovering the true meaning of food in our lives?
 
With inimitable charm and learning, Adam Gopnik takes us on a beguiling journey in search of that meaning as he charts America’s recent and rapid evolution from commendably aware eaters to manic, compulsive gastronomes. It is a journey that begins in eighteenth-century France—the birthplace of our modern tastes (and, by no coincidence, of the restaurant)—and carries us to the kitchens of the White House, the molecular meccas of Barcelona, and beyond. To understand why so many of us apparently live to eat, Gopnik delves into the most burning questions of our time, including: Should a Manhattanite bother to find chicken killed in the Bronx? Is a great vintage really any better than a good bottle of wine? And: Why does dessert matter so much?
 
Throughout, he reminds us of a time-honored truth often lost amid our newfound gastronomic pieties and certitudes: What goes on the table has never mattered as much to our lives as what goes on around the table—the scene of families, friends, lovers coming together, or breaking apart; conversation across the simplest or grandest board. This, ultimately, is who we are.
 
Following in the footsteps of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Adam Gopnik gently satirizes the entire human comedy of the comestible as he surveys the wide world of taste that we have lately made our home. The Table Comes First is the delightful beginning of a new conversation about the way we eat now.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Adam Gopnik

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Author of the beloved best seller Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986. He is a three-time winner of the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Reviews and Criticism and of the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. He lives in New York City with his wife and their two children.
 
Published October 25, 2011 by Vintage. 337 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Cooking, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Table Comes First
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Jay Rayner on Nov 24 2012

Adam Gopnik takes a historical and philosophical approach to understanding our preoccupation with food.

Read Full Review of The Table Comes First: Family... | See more reviews from Guardian

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by JESSICA WARNER on Jan 17 2012

...in the very fine essays about the locavore and Le Fooding movements, Gopnik achieves the deeper patina he is so clearly striving for.

Read Full Review of The Table Comes First: Family... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Jason Rehel on Dec 23 2011

In all, it’s a book that, in its discussion of cooking, kindles our appetites, which is all a diner, and a reader, could ask.

Read Full Review of The Table Comes First: Family... | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for The Table Comes First
60%

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