Frederick Kaufman

We are what we eat, especially in America

As Frederick Kaufman sees it, pro-anorexia websites, locavorism, and Paula Deen cookbooks represent neither the death of American cuisine nor its salvation. Binging, purging, and moralizing about it all are in fact at the heart of our food culture. Kaufman, a journalist whose essays on food porn and raw-milk speakeasies have appeared in Harper’s and The New Yorker, is coming to Town Hall to talk about his latest book, A Short History of the American Stomach. “From the first ordained fast days of Salem and Plymouth to the latest wave of not eating as detox alternative therapy,” he writes, “the United States was and remains one of the most gut-centric and gut-phobic societies in the history of human civilization.” A collection of essays linked together with gonzo-journalist rhetorical flourishes, Kaufman’s book chronicles America’s centuries-old obsession with our guts, including Puritan preacher Cotton Mather’s vomit cures and raw-beef parades in colonial New York. Last week, throngs of the concerned swarmed Town Hall to hear Michael Pollan argue that industrialized food is the root of our nation’s obesity epidemic. They should return for Kaufman’s counterargument, which is that the true cause of our overstuffed shirts may be the obscene bounty that European castaways once discovered in this continent’s forests, streams, and skies. Downstairs at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., $5. 7:30 p.m. JONATHAN KAUFFMAN

Mon., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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