Simon Majumdar is probably not your typical idea of an immigrant. As he says, "I'm well rested, not particularly poor, and the only time I ever encounter 'huddled masses' is in line at Costco." But immigrate he did, and thanks to a Homeland Security agent who asked if he planned to make it official, the journey chronicled in Fed, White, and Blue was born. In it, Simon sets off on a trek across the United States to find out what it really means to become an American, using what he knows best: food.
Simon stops in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to learn about what the pilgrims ate (and that playing Wampanoag football with large men is to be avoided); a Shabbat dinner in Kansas; Wisconsin to make cheese (and get sprayed with hot whey); and LA to cook at a Filipino restaurant in the hope of making his in-laws proud. Simon attacks with gusto the food cultures that make up America - brewing beer, farming, working at a food bank, and even finding himself at a tailgate.
Full of heart, humor, history, and of course food, Fed, White, and Blue is a warm, funny, and inspiring portrait of becoming American.
©2015 Simon Majumdar (P)2015 Gildan Media LLC
The Ragtag Horde
Interesting, if slightly disjointed. I'd have liked a more in depth discussion of the people and their foods.
I'd like to read more about the individual subjects and why they were involved with what they did.
The narrator was actually quite good, just the wrong person to read this. I found it jarring how often the author mentions his upbringing in the UK, and his British accent, and this is said in a VERY American accent.
I'm going to look for more books about American foodways.
I'd like to see more continuity from chapter to chapter. It reads a bit like a series of blog posts.
I got this book because of the bits on Filipino and Filipino – American food. I was looking forward to hearing about someone else's enjoyment of this wonderful cuisine – and chortling about over-the-top but fully appropriate descriptions of mutual favorites! But, I couldn't get past the terrible pronunciation of Filipino food names. I found myself chanting the pronunciation. And it was weird, after the author opens the book with strong statements about his pride in his British cultural identity, to hear the narration in an American accent. And finally, there were a lot of crackling, liquid, lip-smacking noises coming from the narrator, which was rather offputting. I don't really blame the narrator, because he was describing some delicious food, but it would be nice if those could be edited out somehow.
I don't know.
I thought he made a lot of subtle character choices while keeping them all lively. He made all the characters come to life, whether they were from the South or from L.A., or elsewhere. He was really down to earth and fun to listen to!!
Yes, when the interns who were learning how to be better farmers, gave Simon fresh veggies.
Loved, loved, loved this narrator!!! He was so engaging!!!
Interesting story but needs a much better narrator. The flat American accent does not stand in well for the British author. As a TV personality we know what the author actually sounds and looks like.
No -- I quit after 10 chapters. I should have stopped sooner
First of all, I concur with most other listeners: the narrator should have had an English accent. What were they thinking??
I also give the narrator a little tick for quirky pronunciation throughout. He went out of his way to over-exaggerate the Spanish/Mexican words, but then massacred other languages. A Filipino reader complained about his tortured pronunciation of Filipino foods, and I have to chime in on the Jewish/Hebrew words. Very very nice that he included this section at all, grateful for that. His section on the Shabbat dinner was mostly well done -- except for the strange pronunciations. How tough can it be to master the word "Shabbat"?
I took out my earbuds during two sections -- he was just about to give a "disturbing" account of slaughterhouses -- which I didn't need -- and another on hunting, which I also didn't need. I eat meat -- not much, but some. I just don't need to hear the anguishing details of how it arrives on my plate. Is that hypocritical? I don't think so. If I needed extensive surgery, I wouldn't need a precisely detailed step by step account of what was going to be done to me, either. The basics will do just fine -- just make it happen, y'know? Since I didn't listen to these parts, I have no idea how well he actually did these sections.
There were great parts: I got a kick out of his account of spending time with the "Seoul Sausage" kids - as it happens, I did see that season of The Great Food Truck Race, and was pulling for them the whole time. It was fun to see this other side of the guys. That was well done. I enjoyed the account of fishing in Alaska, the chili-fixation in New Mexico, and the barbecue whenever it happened. All of those were interesting.
And it's difficult, I know, to strike a balance between heaping praise on one's hosts, and not making it sound self-serving, that all these people went so far out of their way because he was such an important guy. Some of that praise was laid on with a trowel -- I understand, they were welcoming, generous and kind. Got that, over and over. It got a little heavy handed at times.
Will I listen again? Probably not. But this was a "Daily Deal" so for whatever I paid for it, it was fine.
Through the eyes of a casual visitor, then a permanent resident, and finally those of a would-be citizen, this book gives a new insight to some of the cultural and food eccentricities of the US.
Unfortunately, no matter how good of a performance Mr. Pabon gave, I couldn't help but try to hear the dry humor and British turn of phrase in Simon Majumdar's voice. It was the only thing that marred an otherwise enjoyable book.
I highly recommend.
First of all, let me disclose I am English. I completely get this book from a cultural perspective, having lived here for 10 years and become a US citizen. I totally understand the author's reluctance to give up the English pronunciation of "tom-ah-toes" etc. So when an American narrator was chosen for this book, it was a complete miss. He says "tom-ai-toes". OK, not very significant in itself, but it misses the frisson of friction - and the underlying humor - of a Brit coming to terms with America through its food. I thought I could make sufficient allowance when I started listening but I couldn't stand it. I am going to return this book. Bad judgement call from the xenophobic producers at Audible, I figure? Or some sort of royalty issue? Beats me!
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