My Usual Table
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My Usual Table : A Life in Restaurants

3.05 (88 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

My Usual Table is a love letter to the great restaurants that have changed the way we eat-from Trader Vic's to Chez Panisse and Spago to elBulli-and a vivid memoir of a life lived in food, from a founding editor of Saveur and James Beard Award-winning writer Colman Andrews. For reviewer, writer, and editor Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. The establishments he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. From his usual table, he has watched the growth of Nouvelle Cuisine and fusion cuisine; the organic and locavore movements; nose-to-tail eating; and so-called "molecular gastronomy." In My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story-from growing up in the sunset years of Hollywood's golden age to traveling the world in pursuit of great food-with tales of the restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs who are emblematic of the revolutions great and small that have forever changed the way we eat, cook, and think about food.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 160.02 x 228.6 x 40.64mm | 544.31g
  • Ecco Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • illustrations (some colour)
  • 006213647X
  • 9780062136473
  • 2,152,586

Back cover copy

A vivid portrait of a life lived in food, from renowned food writer and critic Colman Andrews, a founding editor of Saveur, James Beard award winner, and author of the classic cookbooks Catalan Cuisine and The Country Cooking of Ireland

For Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. From his Hollywood childhood through his days in the music business, his first forays into restaurant reviewing, and his ever-evolving career as a food writer and magazine editor--not to mention the course of his obsessive traveling and complicated personal life--he has seen the world mostly from the dining room. Now, in My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story with intimate tales of the seminal restaurants and the great chefs and restaurateurs of our time who are emblematic of the revolutions large and small that have forever transformed the way we eat, cook, and feel about food.

In sixteen chapters, each anchored by the story of his love affair with a cherished restaurant, Andrews evokes the unforgettable meals he has eaten over a lifetime, and the remarkable people with whom he has shared them, tracing the evolution not just of our restaurants but our whole food culture. Beginning with a postwar childhood spent in the banquettes of Chasen's, the glamorous Old Hollywood hangout where studio heads and celebrities rubbed shoulders, Andrews charts a course through the psychedelic '60s, when both he and Americans at large fell for the novel "ethnic" food at spots like neo-Polynesian Trader Vic's or Mexican institution El Coyote. As Andrews began traveling for his burgeoning writing and magazine career in the '70s and '80s, he spent countless hours in the family-run cafes of Paris and trattorias of Rome. The timeless dishes so common on their menus, focused on local and seasonal ingredients, would not only come to profoundly influence Andrews's palate, but also transform the American foodscape forever. Andrews's unparalleled access to the world of food positioned him perfectly as an intimate witness to the rise of revolutionary restaurants like Spago and El Bulli.

From Andrews's usual table, he has watched the growth of nouvelle cuisine and fusion cuisine; the explosion of the organic and locavore movements; the rise of nose-to-tail eating; and so-called molecular gastronomy. The bistros, brasseries, and cafes he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. And all along the way, Andrews has been right there in the dining room, menu in one hand and notebook in the other.
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Review quote

"A fond salute to many of his favorite culinary haunts marks this charming autobiographical omnibus by accomplished cookbook author, longtime reviewer, and cofounder of Saveur, [Colman] Andrews." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) "In the hands of a less adept writer, Andrews' narratives of movie stars cavorting in their favorite restaurant haunts or dining at his parents' house might seem mere name-dropping, but his respect and affection for these celebrities make for enjoyable storytelling." -- Booklist "Andrews gets [it] exactly right... It's this ability to appreciate food in a larger context that makes Andrews' book so appealing - and such a welcome antidote to so much of the food discussion today." -- Los Angeles Times "Mr. Andrews writes delightfully about his earliest experiences dining out in Los Angeles at Chasen's." -- Wall Street Journal "The book is a fun read and covers hot spots such as El Bulli, Trader Vic's and Chasen's that are now shuttered but not forgotten." -- San Francisco Weekly "Andrews is a compelling writer, and so his descriptions of restaurants past will lead readers who chronicle their own days in Instagrammed meals on an adventure in armchair time travel." -- San Francisco Chronicle "Andrews' eloquent food writing might as well be its own romance language. the relationship Andrews has with restaurants and the comfort and thrill he experiences each time he sits down at the table - akin to an actor taking the stage - will make you want to join him." -LA Weekly -- LA Weekly
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About Colman Andrews

Colman Andrews was a cofounder of Saveur, and its editor-in-chief from 2002 to 2006, and later became the restaurant columnist for Gourmet. A native of Los Angeles with degrees in history and philosophy from UCLA, he was a restaurant reviewer and restaurant news columnist for the Los Angeles Times. The recipient of eight James Beard Awards, Andrews is the coauthor and coeditor of three Saveur cookbooks and seven of his own books on food. Andrews is the editorial director of The Daily Meal, a food and wine mega-site (www.thedailymeal.com) that logs approximately ten million monthly unique visitors.
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Rating details

88 ratings
3.05 out of 5 stars
5 7% (6)
4 31% (27)
3 30% (26)
2 27% (24)
1 6% (5)
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