by Michael Moss (Random House, 2013).
Turns out the secret behind the rising rate of obesity in the U.S. really is no secret. Having recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his investigation of the dangers of contaminated meat, Michael Moss turns his attention to the ingredients that processed food magnates have been manipulating for more than 50 years, creating, literally, the tastiest—and most addictive—treats possible: salt, sugar, and fat. While explaining the science behind industry lingo like “bliss point” and “mouthfeel,” Moss explores the often-deceptive tactics industry profiteers have employed to carve out a supermarket niche worth “$280 billion in annual sales,” and reveals that our cultural culinary habits are not so much decided as coded by Ph.Ds in food laboratories, and by insidious advertising. The statistics on hand—that the average American consumes upwards of 60,000 calories worth of sugary drinks and as much as 33 pounds of cheese each year—both frighten and fascinate. Like much of the processed food it describes, this book is at once mouth-wateringly delicious—a read rich with insider info and muckraking reportage—and, once ingested, thoroughly stomach-churning.
by Amy Stewart (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013).
New York Times best-selling author Amy Stewart follows her horticultural curiosity—from Mexico to New Zealand, from apples to walnuts, from gin to absinthe to Douglas fir-infused eau-de-vie—on a quest to answer every question you’ve ever had about the origin of the world’s most famous, infamous, and exotic drinks. Creating the ultimate mixologist’s field guide, Stewart organizes her findings into three sections, employing her barstool wit and connoisseur’s knowledge to decipher the nuances of fermentation and distillation, bare the secrets of suffusing alcohol with nature’s flavors, and finally, to unlock the mysteries of the garden, “where we encounter a seasonal array of botanical mixers and garnishes to be introduced to the cocktail in its final stage of preparation.” Cocktail recipes accompany each entry. Following the author’s notes on Mentha spicata, one finds writer Walker Percy’s renowned formula for the perfect Mint Julep, “one large, powerful drink that grows gradually sweeter.” Following Stewart’s advice, carry your julep—and this book—to the porch and remain there until bedtime: “There will be nothing else to your day but the slow draining of the glass and the pleasant drone of the cicadas.”
by Ed Sipos (University of Arizona Press, 2013).
Arizona history always delivers colorful characters and stories; the history of beer brewing makes no exception. Although Arizonans historically lacked the resources for brewing beer—water, grain, bottles, yeasts—when people arrived to the Southwest from elsewhere—the East Coast, Europe, California—they brought their beer-brewing habits with them and made do. Brewing Arizona is a thorough chronicle of beer brewing in the Grand Canyon State, documenting crude and craft beers alike. Ed Sipos begins with stories of the pioneer brewers working with limited resources in the late 1800s, covers the massive commercial beer production that occurred in the mid-twentieth century, and finishes with the current renaissance of inventive craft brewing occurring throughout the state now. As the current local food—and drink—movement sweeps throughout the United States, it’s worth remembering that localizing our food and drink is nothing new. Painstakingly researched and accompanied by about 250 photographs, this book belongs on the shelf of any beer brewer or enthusiast—or anyone interested in Arizona’s story-worthy history.