From dim sum in Hong Kong to giant platters of Peking duck in Beijing, fresh-baked croissants in Paris and pierogi on the snowy streets of Moscow, Platt takes readers around the world, re-tracing the steps of a unique, and lifelong, culinary education.
The best thing about Platt’s new memoir is the way he dispenses with pretense in general. He does not pretend, even though he knows a great deal, to be a super-foodie. He’s maniacally self-deprecating. He serves good stories because he doesn’t over-batter them ... Platt surfs these waves without being crushed or much bothered by them ... One way to judge a memoir is by how well the author writes about people other than him or herself. There’s a lovely and extended homage here to the Falstaffian food writer and historian Josh Ozersky, a friend of Platt’s who died in 2015 ... The reason to come to The Book of Eating is Platt’s eloquence and wit about what being a professional glutton does to his body and to his family ... Sometimes this book is too casual for its own good. Platt includes sections of essays he’s published previously, not all of which fit. Once in a while, the writing goes on autopilot. Nothing is really at stake. But his charm lashes this succession of small plates together.
... Platt builds on his New York pieces, offering new insights into the world of New York City dining, the changing state of food culture, and his family. Musing on his early career as a restaurant critic, Platt provides a glimpse into foodie culture before it became mainstream ... Throughout, Platt comes across as someone with a deep respect for good food and the people who make it ... Recommended for readers interested in the changing roles of food critics and the evolving nature of food writing in the digital age.
... arranged more like a series of magazine articles than a flowing narrative ... What is missing is [Platt's] emotional core. Memoir is a dish best served warm, but this one is often surprisingly cold. There’s much discussion of where Platt went and what he ate, but precious little about what it all meant to him. This is not a plea for Proustian gushing about every piece of dim sum he ate decades earlier, but some sense of his connection to food would have made his story more robust and engaging ... [Platt] rarely pauses to offer any thoughtful analysis of how and why this is all happening, the deeper effects it has on how chefs and restaurants present themselves, and how they’re covered by writers at every level of the food-journalism ecosystem. Given his unique vantage point in the middle of these storms, his reflections would have been welcome ... Some of the most interesting prose is Platt’s unvarnished take on the dark underbelly of his job ... it’s when he’s reflecting on his career’s devastating downsides that he allows himself to be the most frank and forthright ... In those moments, The Book of Eating warms up to become an engaging memoir that transforms the unappetizing truth about professional food writing into a compelling read.