Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties, from Kansas City to Cuzco

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, May 6, 2003 - Travel - 208 pages
2 Reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Calvin Trillin's Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin.

Calvin Trillin has never been a champion of the “continental cuisine” palaces he used to refer to as La Maison de la Casa House—nor of their successors, the trendy spots he calls “sleepy-time restaurants, where everything is served on a bed of something else.” What he treasures is the superb local specialty. And he will go anywhere to find one.

As it happens, some of Trillin’s favorite dishes—pimientos de Padrón in northern Spain, for instance, or pan bagnat in Nice or posole in New Mexico—can’t be found anywhere but in their place of origin. Those dishes are on his Register of Frustration and Deprivation. “On gray afternoons, I go over it,” he writes, “like a miser who is both tantalizing and tormenting himself by poring over a list of people who owe him money.” On brighter afternoons, he calls his travel agent.

Trillin shares charming and funny tales of managing to have another go at, say, fried marlin in Barbados or the barbecue of his boyhood in Kansas City. Sometimes he returns with yet another listing for his Register—as when he travels to Ecuador for ceviche, only to encounter fanesca, a soup so difficult to make that it “should appear on an absolutely accurate menu as Potage Labor Intensive.”

We join the hunt for the authentic fish taco. We tag along on the “boudin blitzkrieg” in the part of Louisiana where people are accustomed to buying boudin and polishing it off in the parking lot or in their cars (“Cajun boudin not only doesn’t get outside the state, it usually doesn’t even get home”). In New York, we follow Trillin as he roams Queens with the sort of people who argue about where to find the finest Albanian burek and as he tries to use a glorious local specialty, the New York bagel, to lure his daughters back from California (“I understand that in some places out there if you buy a dozen wheat-germ bagels you get your choice of a bee-pollen bagel or a ginseng bagel free”).

Feeding a Yen is a delightful reminder of why New York magazine called Calvin Trillin “our funniest food writer.”

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dbsovereign - LibraryThing

Light, journalistic foody writing. Chasing down unique edibles available only in select locations, our intrepid food-lover traipses all over the globe. At times the author seems a tad too obsessed ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - grheault - LibraryThing

Fourteen stories of pursuit of foods, long yearned for, at food festivals, like pimientas de padron in Galicia, like a daughter's childhood bagel in New York, home. The sad part is to realize in the ... Read full review

All 2 reviews »



Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)


Calvin Trillin, author of FEEDING A YEN: Savoring Local Specialties from Kansas City to Cuzco (Random House; May 6, 2003), has been acclaimed in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorker for forty years, he has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America.” His antic commentary on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a “happy eater” have earned him renown as “a classic American humorist.” His best-selling Remembering Denny (1993) was hailed as “an elegiac, disturbing and altogether brilliant memoir.”

Trillin was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo., and now lives in New York. He graduated from Yale in 1957, did a hitch in the army, and then joined Time. After a year covering the South from the Atlanta bureau, he became a writer for Time in New York.

In 1963, he became a staff writer for The New Yorker. From 1967 to 1982, he produced a highly praised series of articles for The New Yorker called “U. S. Journal” -- 3,000-word pieces every three weeks from somewhere in the United States, on subjects that ranged from the murder of a farmer's wife in Iowa to the author's effort to write the definitive history of a Louisiana restaurant called Didee's “or to eat an awful lot of baked duck and dirty rice trying.” Some of the murder stories from that series were published in 1984 as Killings, a book that was described by William Geist in The New York Times Book Review as “that rarity, reportage as art.”

From 1978 through 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, writing what USA Today called “simply the funniest regular column in journalism.” From 1986 through 1995, the column was syndicated to newspapers. His columns have been collected in Uncivil Liberties (1982), With All Disrespect (1985), If You Can't Say Something Nice (1987), Enough's Enough (1990), and Too Soon to Tell (1995.) From 1996 to 2001, Trillin did a column for Time.

Since 1990, Trillin has written a piece of comic verse weekly for The Nation. In 1994, he published Deadline Poet, his account of being a commentator-in-rhyme on the news of the day.

Trillin's books have included three comic novels (most recently the national bestseller Tepper Isn’t Going Out), a collection of short stories, a travel book and an account of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. His three previous books on eating -- American Fried, Alice, Let's Eat and Third Helpings -- were compiled in 1994 into a single volume called The Tummy Trilogy. His memoirs include Messages from My Father, a New York Times best seller in 1996, and Family Man (1998.)

He lectures widely and has appeared often as a guest on television. He has written and presented two one-man shows at the American Place Theater in New York -- both of them critically acclaimed and both sell-outs. In reviewing “Words, No Music,” in 1990, New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow called Trillin “the Buster Keaton of performance humorists.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Bibliographic information