Friday, June 24, 2011

'Empires of Food' Book Signing

On Tuesday evening, I attended a free book signing at Book Ends in Winchester for "EMPIRES OF FOOD: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations" with Co-Author & Editor of the Improper Bostonian, Andrew Rimas, and Chef Paul Turano of Tryst restaurant in Arlington.

Andrew Rimas reading an excerpt from his new book.

Rimas co-wrote the book with Evan D.G. Fraser, whom he also co-wrote his first book with, titled "Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World." The event, held inside this adorable, local bookshop, was complete with readings from the new book, three different passed appetizers from Tryst, and answers to some thought-provoking questions from the handful of people in attendance - including topics such as the correlation between migration and famine, and the sustainable seafood industry.

The appetizer spread.

The only vegetarian-friendly app. of the evening: Spanakopita. 

Rimas, who is an occasional meat-eater himself, led the book discussion and Q&A session like a very intelligent, passionate pro (this guy has definitely done his research). Although the book only took him and Fraser a year to complete, Rimas was knowledgeable yet non-preachy about the point of this book, which was nominated for a James Beard Award:

"Fraser and Rimas argue that neither local food movements nor free market economies will stave off the next food crash, and they propose their own solutions. A fascinating, fresh history told through the prism of the dining table, “EMPIRES OF FOOD” offers a grand scope and a provocative analysis of the world today, indispensible in this time of global warming and food crises."

Ever heard of Monsanto? I'm currently reading "The World According to Monsanto" by Marie-Monique Robin, and "EMPIRES OF FOOD" seems like a good book to follow it up with. During the Q&A portion of the evening, Chef Paul even pointed out that most of his customers are interested in knowing where the food on his menu comes from - but the majority still go for the cheaper, non-local/organic options. He even told a story about how when he first started out as a chef, he encountered only few diners each month who had food allergies - and now he encounters at least one diner per day. He admitted he is convinced this has to do with what's being put in our food today.

It's clear the food industry is a scary place, and I'm excited to read what Rimas and Fraser uncover in their second book. Expect a full book review once I'm done reading. 

*Side note: The book is only available in hard cover for the time being, and cost me $27 at Book Ends (not including tax). Although it's cheaper on Amazon, I encourage you to check out this locally-owned book shop - it's worth every extra penny.

What are your thoughts on the future of the food industry? Are you optimistic, or as terrified as I am?


  1. this sounds super interesting! what a cool book and event.

  2. How lovely when food book events involve food, too :) Looks like fun!