Isabella Biedenharn
October 30, 2015 AT 03:20 PM EDT

The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America's Food

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Matthew Gavin Frank
publisher
Liveright
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

Never has a country-spanning food romp felt this subversive. Frank’s essays—which dissect signature dishes from all 50 states—are nothing short of brilliant: He follows slight details through cerebral mazes, emerging with descriptions like “Homer and Aristotle… compromising on the shape of the earth” to illustrate the squashed yet spherical shape of a New York bagel. His writing style fluctuates, playing with first, third, and even second person, but the form always seems to serve its content. What it doesn’t always serve, however, is the book’s presumed purpose: Who is hungry for a layered Boston cream pie after it’s compared to a body pressed to death during the Salem witch trials? Or a bagel, after we’re told of the litter found in New York water? But as an exploration of humanity, life, and tastes, the book is delicious. A–

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