Part In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and part Roadfood, this is a culinary coming-out party for Cowen (economics, George Mason Univ.), who up to now has been known for more standard economic works like The Great Stagnation. This latest book combines economic and environmental messages, all written in a highly entertaining and informative style—often with a counterintuitive twist. The real story, though, is the author and his techniques for finding and eating delicious, inexpensive food from all over the world. Thus, we get tips on how to obtain good Chinese food from local, not-so-authentic places; which strip malls are likely to have the best restaurants (who knew they were in strip malls to begin with?); using Google to turn up unexpected restaurant gems; and why places filled with fun, laughing, drinking people often don’t have good food. An entire chapter is devoted to barbecue, and another provides specific suggestions for eating well in numerous countries.
VERDICT A fun and informative book that environmentalists, economists, and (most of all) foodies will enjoy. Recommended for all. [See Prepub Alert, 10/7/11.]—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH