Having finished The Language of Food, I have add a few observations. Dan Jurafsky keeps up the momentum till the end:
- dishing up fantastic humor along with fabulous and outrageous recipes written in old English
- calling out his wife for testing his perception of the smell asparagus in urine
- taking me back to the years of Screaming Yellow Zonkers
- explaining why the Chinese don’t eat dessert
- adoring M.F.K. Fisher
- letting his readers hear his mother’s New York accent without audio
The big message is this. Without the free flow of people and goods, none of us would be eating the variety we do. We owe great swaths of our food to Muslims and other inhabitants of the Middle East: sherbet, ice cream etc., also fish and chips, and anything starting with macar-, including pasta and almond-flavored cookies. Asia, specifically China, Africa, and Latin America make similar contributions. Jurafsky shows that food can bring us together.
Best of all, The Language of Food offers a terrific education in food, and language.