It’s kinda crazy that it took The Best American series until 2018 to publish its first collection of food writing. The Best American title started in 1915, eventually growing to encompass the greatest works of literature every year as chosen by bigwigs like Susan Orlean (essays) and Michael Chabon (short stories).
In October, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt put out its first edition of The Best American Food Writing 2018. Its editor? None other than Ruth Reichl, bestselling food novelist, former editor in chief of Gourmet, and legendary New York Times restaurant critic. The selected authors and their short stories are … impressive, to say the least. To name a few: New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear, New Yorker critic Helen Rosner, LA Times critic Jonathan Gold (who recently passed away), the Splendid Table’s Francis Lam, and food science wizard Harold McGee.
The short list also includes our very own food critic, Karen Brooks, for her May 2017 story on the rise of Portland’s pizza scene.
“Typically, a regional pizza genre—Detroit’s gooey, cheese-crispy squares or New Haven’s coal-charred ovals and rectangles, say—is defined by a set of shapes, thickness specifications, and baking methods, highly codified and endlessly replicated at local shops," writes Brooks. "They inspire biblical feuds over origin stories and 'authenticity.' Stumptown’s pizza is the opposite. No two joints are alike. Portland has no prescriptive, handed-down food culture, so our pizza makers freely sample American styles and the Naples mothership, adding personal choices and oddball preoccupations, adhering to our unofficial food motto: no idea forbidden.”
Read the full story right here.