Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir by Eddie Huang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This isn't a chef memoir, let me just say that right off the bat. Eddie Huang is so much more than a food person. This is the story of how a child born to Taiwanese immigrants makes a life for himself. It is a coming of age story more than anything else. Eddie is only 30, and has seen one restaurant fail and one be an immediate hit. He has worked as a furniture salesman, a drug dealer, a lawyer, and a stand-up comic.
I enjoyed the story, especially read by the author himself. I didn't always identify with him, and would be completely intimidated by him, but I still think I'd probably enjoy his food. Who wouldn't be intrigued by a man who values stinky tofu?
He does talk about food throughout the book, it just isn't a central theme the way you might expect. One sentence stuck in my head, where he describes good food as having "detail, attention, and restraint." In some ways it is ironic, because he believes in that style for his food, but not for his life; never for his life.
You can get a sense of his writing style in this Salon.com article about his Dad, and a sense of how he is viewed by others in this Time Magazine article. You can follow his internal dialogue in Twitter, or watch his show on Vice, also called Fresh Off the Boat. I'm recommending all these things because you won't be able to read the book until the end of January. But keep your eye on Eddie. Considering what he has accomplished so far, I'm not sure he'll decide just to stay a restauranteur his whole life.
You should watch this video of Eddie in Taiwan... I linked it at 3:00 where it starts talking about food, but you can watch the whole thing to watch him take uniquely Taiwanese drugs. :)
View all my reviews