In the course of researching The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, I found the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters, an online community for chefs and hardcore foodies, to be a useful resource. It’s a good place to learn about new restaurants and ancient cookbooks, and to observe forum conversations where anyone from a Westchester dentist to Anthony Bourdain might weigh in. And–my goodness!–I’ve just noticed that they’ve now got a discussion thread going about my book, and that most of the comments are favorable.
As much as I enjoy eGullet, I’m also amused by its insularity, the way its members refer to themselves in the forums as “our tribe” (e.g., “I was giddy, tipsy, and high on the thrill of meeting members of the hungry kinky geeky tribe,” or “I was expecting very little [of The United States of Arugula] because of the title and because he’s not a ‘member of the tribe,’ but boy, he really reported the heck out of that book”); forgive me, but sometimes I can’t help but envision these folks as gastronomically inclined members of a suburban swingers’ club.
I think that an eGullet foodie convention would make an excellent premise for the next Christopher Guest improvisational ensemble comedy. The United States of Arugula thread alone is good grist. One commenter revisits the great title debate, critiquing, “I just don’t understand the title. Are we united as a nation by arugula?” In his profile section, the title-disliker includes a link to his own blog. Its title? “A Frolic of My Own.”