Review of “Real Food/Fake Food”

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You’ve heard of truffle oil, right? Well, it’s the perfect fake food. It has no truffles in it at all, and is created in a chemist’s laboratory. Why is it allowed on the market? Politics and bad food policy from the FDA, as author Larry Olmsted explains. And in this book with chapters like “Fishy Fish” and “Cheesy Cheeses,” he excoriates the importers, supermarket owners, and restaurateurs who foist mislabeled fish, adulterated olive oil, fake Kobe beef, false champagne, and many others on foodies like myself and score of other people expecting the real thing. And real is important as Olmsted shows us, like real Parmigiano-Reggiano from Parma and Parma only, instead of the fake “Parmesan” cheeses manufactured in the U.S. and loaded with fillers of the non-cheese of any kind variety. This is an infuriating book, one that shocks and surprises the reader, especially about the sheer gall of the fakers out there who are determined to rip us off. I learned more from this book than any other food book in recent memory, and I recommend it highly. Despite my praise for this book, it lacks one important element that every nonfiction book should have–an index. What the hell was this publisher (Algonquin Books) thinking? Occasionally, a publisher will say to me, “We’re not paying for an index–if you want one, you pay for it.” And I do.