ADDRESSES: E-mail— [email protected]
(With Steven Daly) The Rock Snob’s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge, illustrated by Ross MacDonald, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Lawrence Levi) The Film Snob’s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Filmological Knowledge, illustrated by Ross MacDonald, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2006.
The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Vanity Fair and GQ.
SIDELIGHTS: In The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, writer David Kamp explores both the chefs and the social factors that have impacted American cooking over the past five decades. “Food is my passion in my private life. I love to cook, to eat and go out to restaurants,” Kamp told Scott Hume in an interview on the Restaurants & Institutions Web site. “In my lifetime, I’ve been continually awed and pleased by the accelerated pace at which food has gotten better, in terms of ingredients and shopping and in sophistication and restaurants; the breadth of what’s available and the talents of the chefs themselves. And I thought, what a wonderful thing to write about because it appeals very strongly to me as a food person and it’s that rarest of things, an upbeat cultural development.”
In his book, Kamp writes about longtime venerated chefs and food authorities such as James Beard, Julia Child, and Craig Claiborne. He also details the influence of the modern television chefs who have their own programs on the Food Network and also appear on other television shows and commercials and who often write hugely popular books. These include Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, and Rachael Ray. The author delves into various food trends that have taken hold in the United States, from French and nouvelle cuisines to a growing emphasis on organic foods and cooking. He also provides an historical look at how American cuisine changed from the time of the American Revolution to modern times, with an emphasis on the twentieth century, which saw the country’s reputation for cuisine rise from being very low to being compared to the best of European foods.
“Kamp has accomplished a marvelous feat in collecting the telling details and anecdotes of those who have helped shaped American tastes,” observed Cheryl L. Reed in a review of The United States of Arugula in the Chicago Sun-Times.“Reading him is like gathering around the prep table gossiping with the line cooks.” Reed went on to note: “Arugula is sure to entertain anyone who shops at Williams-Sonoma or Crate and Barrel, watches the Food Network and regularly forks out a few Franklins for an epicurean experience.” In a review in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, John Marshall noted that the author “covers the vast culinary territory in a deliciously entertaining fashion, with marvelous profiles of celeb chefs and other luminaries that capture their outsized egos, competitive natures and bitchy relationships with others in the kitchen trade.” Writing on AmericanHeritage.com, Jon Grinspan commented: “The United States of Arugula vividly portrays several eras of American culture while leaving the reader genuinely pleased with the changes in our national diet.”New York Times contributor A.O. Scott noted: “Without quite saying so—and with admirable lightness of touch for just that reason— Kamp uses food to suggest a broader history, a tale of tastes and trends embedded in the grand epic of American consumer capitalism.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Chicago Sun-Times, December 17, 2006, Cheryl L. Reed, review of The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation.
New York Times, October 1, 2006, A.O. Scott, review of The United States of Arugula.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 29, 2006, John Marshall, review of The United States of Arugula.
AmericanHeritage.com, http://www.americanheritage.com/ (September 13, 2006), Jon Grinspan, “Fast-Food Nation or Gourmet Nation?,” review of The United States of Arugula.
David Kamp Home Page, http://www.davidkamp.com (January 21, 2007).
Restaurants & Institutions, http://www.rimag.com/ (January 21, 2007), Scott Hume, “Interface: David Kamp,” interview with author.*