October 25, 2013
Eating Bugs and Testicles: A Woman’s Journey Into Macho Food Culture

I had a terrible time trying to read Dana Goodyear’s new book. Page after page, I was fighting the urge to pull my eyes away, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She’s a wonderfully engaging writer and a first-rate reporter. Was it the food? Anything That Moves is a chronicle of what she calls “extreme foodie-ism”—today’s culinary quest for the forbidden, the unexplored, the off-menu, and the occasionally toxic. The very first chapter, which charts the lurid gastronomic exploits of the Los Angeles food writer Jonathan Gold, invites us to chow down vicariously on bull penis, pig uterus, “small intestine full of undigested cow’s milk,” and the “twitching” tentacles of an octopus. Later on in the book come fried stinkbug, venison-heart tartare, and sushi made with “a rose-haired tarantula bought from a pet store.”
None of it made me hungry, that’s for sure, but I didn’t mind picturing the stuff on a plate. What was putting me off, I finally realized, wasn’t the food but the whole concept of eating that emerged in the book. I kept waiting for the people I met in each chapter to manifest something I could recognize as appetite; all I encountered was high-spirited defiance. Where was the rest of life?
Eating is an activity rooted in practically every dimension of our lives—physical, social, moral, psychological, emotional, intellectual, economic, geographical. There’s almost nothing it doesn’t touch. So it drove me crazy to be plunged into a food world where eating chiefly revolves around the pleasure of feeling rebellious. Frog fallopian tubes, for instance, which Goodyear discovers atop a kind of coconut-and-mango parfait in a Chinese dessert shop, undoubtedly make sense in their own tradition. Fed to a group of American thrill-seekers in the San Gabriel Valley, they just spell decadence. At least to me.
Read more. [Image: Kelsey Dake]

Eating Bugs and Testicles: A Woman’s Journey Into Macho Food Culture

I had a terrible time trying to read Dana Goodyear’s new book. Page after page, I was fighting the urge to pull my eyes away, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She’s a wonderfully engaging writer and a first-rate reporter. Was it the food? Anything That Moves is a chronicle of what she calls “extreme foodie-ism”—today’s culinary quest for the forbidden, the unexplored, the off-menu, and the occasionally toxic. The very first chapter, which charts the lurid gastronomic exploits of the Los Angeles food writer Jonathan Gold, invites us to chow down vicariously on bull penis, pig uterus, “small intestine full of undigested cow’s milk,” and the “twitching” tentacles of an octopus. Later on in the book come fried stinkbug, venison-heart tartare, and sushi made with “a rose-haired tarantula bought from a pet store.”

None of it made me hungry, that’s for sure, but I didn’t mind picturing the stuff on a plate. What was putting me off, I finally realized, wasn’t the food but the whole concept of eating that emerged in the book. I kept waiting for the people I met in each chapter to manifest something I could recognize as appetite; all I encountered was high-spirited defiance. Where was the rest of life?

Eating is an activity rooted in practically every dimension of our lives—physical, social, moral, psychological, emotional, intellectual, economic, geographical. There’s almost nothing it doesn’t touch. So it drove me crazy to be plunged into a food world where eating chiefly revolves around the pleasure of feeling rebellious. Frog fallopian tubes, for instance, which Goodyear discovers atop a kind of coconut-and-mango parfait in a Chinese dessert shop, undoubtedly make sense in their own tradition. Fed to a group of American thrill-seekers in the San Gabriel Valley, they just spell decadence. At least to me.

Read more. [Image: Kelsey Dake]

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