If you have never heard Jim Gaffigan’s comedy you are really missing some of the funniest stand-up ever. He is most famous for his bit on Hot Pockets, a product name that thanks to Gaffigan I can no longer simply say. It now must be sung in a high-pitched, soft voice.
Food: A Love Story is his second book. The first, Dad is Fat is one that I started but abandoned because by the time I got to it I had already heard much of it in his stand-up routines. Food was released in October of 2014 and it has been a really funny read. And speaking of Hot Pockets, Gaffigan has a chapter in the book about that very bit that made him famous. He shares stories of people shouting “Hot Pockets!” at him in airports and on the street, and even more observations on those microwavable monstrosities.
My favorite writing from this book has been his commentary on seafood and the people who love seafood. The book contains “The Jim Gaffigan Food Map”, where the U.S. has been redrawn based on food. New England has been designated as “Seabugland” (i.e. lobsters and shellfish.) Gaffigan, like me hates seafood and fish. Lobsters are the cockroaches of the sea, oysters are snot from dirty rocks. (I’m glad to see that Vermont gets cheese and ice cream on this map!)
“Seafood in general gives me the willies. With most seafood, I don’t understand the appeal. Like anchovies. What is the difference between an anchovy and a sweaty eyebrow? Whenever I see an anchovy I think, ‘Someone has attacked Tom Selleck.’ Why would you want to put that on a pizza?”
In this book no restaurant, comfort food, food trend, or delicacy is left untouched. I love his honest and sarcastic observations that strip away the outer layers of excuses, pretense, and just get to the heart of it. He skewers people who act haughty about never eating at McDonald’s. He pummels the kale trend.
“It’s amazing the lengths we will go to in order to be able to stomach kale. ‘All you have to do is freeze-dry it, cover it in cayenne pepper, put it in a shake, and bury it in the ground.’ It doesn’t matter what you do to kale: it still tastes like bitter spinach with hair.”
One of the funniest passages I read was about farmer’s markets hype.
“Instead of going to a grocery store and getting everything I need, I can stand outside and buy some dirty vegetables on the street from absolute strangers who supposedly live on a farm but are probably serial killers.”
It’s all very simplified and very, very mocking (but I am a Mock, after all.) There’s something akin to a feeling of relief in food humor especially when it comes to current food trends and food snobbery. Yes, I do like to walk through a farmer’s market but he’s right: they are dirty vegetables! I get cravings for McDonald’s food. I don’t like kale. I haven’t tried putting it in a shake or burying it, but I have tried making kale chips. With the first bite they disintegrated into an ash-like substance in my mouth. Bleh.
In addition to roasting all of our favorite foods, food markets and chain restaurants, he shares about regional foods he has found on his tours: BBQ places in the Southeast (labeled on his map as “BBQland”), favorite places to get a cheeseburger (one of which serves french fries ON the burger!), and at home Katz’s deli in New York City. He has taken each of his five kids to Katz’s for sandwiches that are far too big, leaving Gaffigan with no choice but to finish them.
I love that he is a self-described “eatie”, not a foodie. I think I might fall into that group too!
**What is The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Review Club, you ask? Brilliant and well-dressed is the host The Armchair Squid who describes it thusly:
“The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.”
Visit his blog to see loads of lovely book reviews: TheArmchairSquid.Blogspot.com.