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The definitive biography of America’s best-known and least understood food personality, and the modern culinary landscape he shaped.
After World War II, a newly affluent United States reached for its own gourmet culture, one at ease with the French international style of Escoffier, but also distinctly American. Enter James Beard, authority on cooking and eating, his larger-than-life presence and collection of whimsical bow ties synonymous with the nation’s food for decades, even after his death in 1985.
In the first biography of Beard in twenty-five years, acclaimed writer John Birdsall argues that Beard’s struggles as a closeted gay man directly influenced his creation of an American cuisine. Starting in the 1920s, Beard escaped loneliness and banishment by traveling abroad to places where people ate for pleasure, not utility, and found acceptance at home by crafting an American ethos of food likewise built on passion and delight.
Informed by never-before-tapped correspondence and lush with details of a golden age of home cooking, The Man Who Ate Too Much is a commanding portrait of a towering figure who still represents the best in food.
About the Author: John Birdsall is a two-time James Beard Award-winning author and former restaurant critic. He is the coauthor of a cookbook, Hawker Fare, with James Syhabout.