Food: A Love Story

food-love-story

Food: A Love Story, by Jim Gaffigan. Originally published in 2014. 352 pages.

I can honestly and unequivocally say that if you asked me for a genre of book I thought I would never, ever, be bothered to read, I’d probably say one like this: written by a modern day stand up American comedian. I have no idea what possessed me to grab this off the featured shelf of our library on my way to check-out kiosk. Something about the photo made me snicker, curiosity got the better of me, and my state of mind this holiday season demanded that I read something that might make me laugh.

At least I hoped it would make me laugh, and thankfully, there were several moments as I read this book that literally made me laugh out loud. I read portions to members of our foodie household. The funny parts were so funny that I was able to forgive Mr. Gaffigan for the parts that were patently UN-funny.

This is not high brow, not excellent writing, and book snobs need not even bother to crack the cover. I generally consider myself a book snob, but I’m prole enough to be able to kick back and laugh with someone as low brow as I am. I’m not going to even try and discuss this book from a literary perspective because that would mean pretending that it’s literary. The fact that Gaffigan keeps making the best seller list with these books says as much about American reading habits as his books reveal about American eating habits.

So rather than go any further, I’ll just put up some funny quotes:

It would be embarrassing trying to explain what an appetizer is to someone from a starving country. “Yeah, the appetizer—that’s the food we eat before we have our food. No, no, you’re thinking of dessert—that’s food we have after we have our food. We eat tons of food. Sometimes there’s so much we just stick it in a bag and bring it home. Then we throw it out the next day. Maybe give it to the dog.

Indeed:

In America we have gone way beyond sustenance. Eating is an activity.

Gaffigan’s wife is a devout Catholic, who is also thin and pretty (nothing like him) and his five kids are very cute. This irony prefaces a few jokes in the book. This is when reached a point in his life when he decided to stop trying to get into shape, and embrace his reality:

It wasn’t defeat as much as it was acceptance. I figured, I got a hot wife. If she leaves me for getting fat, that means she’s shallow.

On trusting a skinny person’s word on what tastes (or doesn’t taste) good:

I’d still trust an overly fat person over a skinny one any day. The best adviser would have a very specific body type: pudgy or just a little overweight. This makes it clear they have a somewhat unhealthy relationship with food, but not a clinical problem.If they are morbidly obese, then you can conclude that they will probably eat everything and anything and do not have discerning taste.

My favorite part was probably his exploration of how dumb we have to be to have made bottled water into a multi-billion dollar industry. He even notes that Evian is “naive” spelled backwards, which I somehow never noticed.

Recently I tried Smartwater, which has electrolytes in it, and it’s supposed to replenish your body better than regular bottled water, therefore making you, I guess, smarter. I tried it, and it totally worked. I am now much smarter. Now I only drink tap water.

On second thought, that wasn’t my favorite part. It was this section, which I am going to end with along with an embarrassing confession. Me and my daughters? We are these people. My Benevolent Dictator thinks we are nuts:

Foodies will travel for miles in search of the perfect hamburger. “There is this place in Greenpoint that’s only an hour by train and a forty-minute walk from the subway that has the best burger in town!” It can’t be better than the burger I can get across the street. Mostly, I just want the closest best burger in town.

Yep, we drive for a great…whatever. We even got excited about trying a new local vegan donut shop and we’re as far from vegan as you can get.

Like I said, I laughed, which was the whole point. This book was basically a 300+ page stand up act, with all this implies: Some great hits, and some big misses.

Book snob grade: D

For me, out of book snob mode: Solid B+

Content advisory: The occasional four letter word here and there, but very rare.

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13 thoughts on “Food: A Love Story

  1. I watched a Gaffigan special one time and laughed very hard at several spots. I also remember the bottled water skit. Good stuff. I enjoy his work.

    Like all comedians, it’s his persona that takes the material over the top. He’s the American everyman which, on some level, means Americans need to get in shape. No offense to Jim.

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  2. He even notes that Evian is “naive” spelled backwards…

    People said that over 20 years ago where I’m from, lol. I think I’d have put the book down after reading that, if I’d got that far in the first place. 😛 Surprised it even got a snob grade D by the sounds of it! LOL

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  3. I’m in that head space right now. Someone asked me about Thanksgiving and suddenly I really needed a laugh. It’s a real need at the moment and this book filled it.

    I was actually reading The Disciplined Life by Richard Taylor, and thoroughly enjoying it. I’ll finish and review it next month sometime but it’s too serious for me at the moment.

    It is not written so terribly that it’s unreadable, but like I said: it’s basically a stand up gig in book form.

    Next up is a roaring 20’s novel written by a friend. So like I said, lightweight stuff.

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  4. I hope it’s clear I’m not criticizing that aspect. We all need a break from serious stuff once in a while. I just found that “naive” bit funny in that I don’t know how old this guy is, but boy is that an old one!

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  5. I can’t believe I never noticed that before, frankly.

    But then again whenever I bought bottled water I always bought the cheap stuff, LOL. Now I just carry my won refillable one from home. Not gonna tell you how long it took me to figure that out.

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  6. Well I didn’t figure it out either, someone else pointed it out. Don’t know when the last time was I bought bottled water. A lot of it is just filtered tap water (“from a municipal source” means “from the tap” lol).

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  7. In most countries, the people eat the same thing everyday: rice and beans, for example, thoughout Latin America; fuul in Egypt, etc. So comedy can only go so far in that regard.

    It’s noteworthy, for sure.

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  8. Now don’t make too much fun of Gaffigan–he’s from my hometown of Chesterton, IN, and attended the same high school as Chief Justice John Roberts. (I never knew either, FWIW…let’s just say my horizons were far more proletarian than those of Gaffigan or Roberts, and La Lumiere was not in the cards for me) Maybe it’s that Chesterton heritage that explains why I also have a hot wife, and why MY kids can also say “dad is fat.” Yup, that’s it.

    I believe I started hearing the “naive” joke back in the 1980s, and I also get a lot of humor out of American eating habits. Just went to a restaurant yesterday where one of the big attractions was that you can get tater tots with your burger–OK, I did, but suffice it to say that I was glad that the company was paying, as the burger and memories of the school lunch was not $15 plus tip worth of goodness.

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  9. Does this remind anyone of CS Lewis talking about a society in which food was sensationalized in the way in which we sensationalized sex as indicative of a problem with gluttony, just as our society has a problem with lust? Or is it just me… ? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My girls and I listened to his book “Fat Dad” in the car once and absolutely loved it, I’ll have to see if I can get ahold of this one for them..there were a few parts I had to skip over. for decency sake…

    Liked by 1 person

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