There are guys who like to cook. I love guys who like to cook.
There are guys who love to eat. I love guys who love to eat.
And then there are male foodies.
Male foodies are annoying. You can recognize male foodies because they fall into one of four types:
Male Foodie Type 1: Those that collect restaurant experiences like little boys collect baseball cards. When the topic of food or restaurants comes up in conversation, the conversation turns into a competition about whose experiences are more impressive. You can often find these types hanging around the regional forums at eGullet.
Male Foodie Type 2: Those who recount meals in detail in conversation. Whether it's meals they've cooked or meals they've eaten in restaurants, they tell you about them in excruciating detail and it's rarely interesting to listen to. It's like someone trying to tell you about the funny bits of a movie -- it's just not the same second hand.
Male Foodie Type 3: Those that cook as a way to show off. When you go to their house for dinner they spend a lot of time sweating in the kitchen, and they expect oohs and ahhs when they present their meals with a big flourish.
Male Foodie Type 4: Those who attend cooking classes are a special bunch, and there can be a few variations of these:
- Those that ask questions fit for Alton Brown (Why do you do it that way? Does that cause the starch molecules to bind with the water molecules?) and decide the instructor isn't worth his/her salt when she answers "because that's the way you do it."
- Those that try to stump the instructor or find flaws in his/her methods.
- Those that find ways to show off their own knowledge at every opportunity in class.
- Those who look down their noses at everyone else taking the class, especially if his fellow classmates want to relax and enjoy themselves instead of acting as if they are in medical school.
When I started reading The Saucier's Apprentice by Bob Spitz, he clearly fell into Male Foodie Type 3, having friends over for Friday dinners, during which his love interest criticized him for the weekly melodrama. She ended up becoming a villain in the book, and I think this scene was meant to foreshadow it, but at this point I got her.
Next he impulsively decides to spend three months hopping among various cooking schools in Europe and doing stages in restaurants to really learn to cook -- leaving behind his 11-year-old daughter, who is supposedly the light of his life. Huh. I just don't get people who leave their kids for months at a time, even less if it's to pursue a hobby.
So by page 30, my biases disposed me to just not like the author.
He heads to the cooking schools of Europe and learns a lot and also becomes, at various times, versions of Male Foodie Type 4, deeming various cooking schools and fellow students as being beneath him. (Granted, some of the cooking schools sounded pretty lame.)
The high points of the book are when he does stages at European restaurants (although I don't recall him spending a lot of time working with a saucier, so the title of the book is a bit misleading) and chefs treat him like dirt. But then he either pouts or whines about it and eventually leaves the restaurant with some prized recipes.
The book was interesting enough that I finished it (although in my current post-surgery situation it's not like I have a stack of good reading material to choose from).
Really, he's a decent writer and probably even a decent guy. In fact, if you fit into the one male foodie types listed above, you probably will love this book. Otherwise, you're better off with the book I mentioned below.