Food Writers Gather to Discuss the History of the World

Telling the story of the world -- the history, the culture, the people -- is no small task. But what if you started with something small? Like say a grain of salt. Following in the footsteps of Mark Kurlansky, whose book Salt ravaged the best-seller lists in 2003, four writers who have similarly approached our vast, impenetrable history using one ingredient, one staple dish or even one bottle of wine, are gathering at the Housing Works Bookstore on Wednesday to talk about food, obsession, people, and especially people who are obsessed with food.

Anne Mendelson, who takes a critical look at the history of dairy in her 2008 book Milk -- beginning with the lives of goat herders in the Middle East some 6,000 years ago  -- will be there to discuss how we ended up with such dairy-like abominations as strawberry-flavored Nesquik and Go-Gurts. If we're lucky, maybe she will share some hot tips from her book for making homemade yogurt.

How did a country that thrives on cheeseburgers and mashed potatoes become so obsessed with eating raw fish and rice? Trevor Corson, in The Story of Sushi,  follows students at the California Sushi Academy while also providing a history of the Japanese staple, it's unlikely rise to stardom in the U.S. over the last decade and the biology of the scaley, slippery suckers themselves.

There's even something for oenophiles: Brooklyn-based journalist Benjamin Wallace goes all Da Vinci Code in The Billionaire’s Vinegar as he tracks the history of a bottle of wine that famously sold for over $150,000 in 1985, revealing the dark, deceptive and ultimately ridiculous side of high-price wine collecting.

Dangerously close to home, David Sax in Save the Deli chronicles his quest for pastrami on rye outside the confines of New York City and is surprised to find salami, cabbage rolls and chopped liver that is -- get ready for it -- better than New York City's finest. Feel free to take issue with his outrageous claims (psst, he's from Toronto -- easy target) during the Q&A.

This is the second panel in "Word of Mouth," a series to help raise money to renovate the not-for-profit Housing Works Bookstore's cafe so they can make even more fresh pies, quiches and cookies while ultimately helping out those who are homeless and living with HIV/AIDS in New York City. 

Where: Housing Works Bookstore/Cafe
            122 Crosby Street nr. Houston
When:  Wednesday, April 14, 7:00 p.m.
Cost:    Free (wine and beer $5)

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us