While on vacation in Hawaii I did not indulge in one of my addictions, watching food programs on TV. In fact, I watched very little TV at all on my trip. Vacation is my big chance to catch up on my reading. This time around I brought two books I had received review copies of–Best Food Writing 2007 and Service Included. I was thrilled to see that my friend and Bay Area Bites colleague Shuna Fish Lydon was included in the book. Past Bay Area Bites writers to make the cut include both Catherine Nash and Stephanie Lucianovic. The book seems to be equal parts angst and humor with some thoughtful and sentimental pieces thrown In for good measure. It’s a good vacation read, and provides an interesting snapshot of the food issues and obsessions of the day. Some of my favorite pieces were Cast Iron Skillet by Andrea King Collier, and A Grandchild of Italy Cracks the Spaghetti Code by Kim Severson.
The other book I read Service Included, is really a gem. It gives us the flipside to Bill Buford’s Heat. It’s the story of being a waiter at Per Se in New York. Phoebe Damrosch is a fantastic writer with humor, wit and a great sense of irony. She is brutally honest about just about everything, herself included. Throughout the saga of the opening of Per Se in New York are little tidbits about service and how to be a good diner. The book reads like a guilty pleasure. I have even less desire to be a waiter than to be a chef, but to be a fly on the wall is just plain yummy.