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Eating with the Pilgrims

Calvin Trillin Eating with the PilgrimsI was thrilled when I found out we were moving to Berlin last fall—going back to the country I had idolized during my family’s stint living here in the late 90s sounded incredible. But there were a few key things I was sad to leave behind in New York: my great friends, our new apartment, some of our favorite haunts, and, of course, the food book club I had started earlier in the year.

Luckily for me, Berlin has its own food-focused group of readers, thanks to the incredible Dialogue Books. Founded by British expat Sharmaine Lovegrove, Dialogue is an online literary space and a brick-and-mortar English-language book shop. Unfortunately I missed the February meeting last week, due to my scatterbrained scheduling, but I did manage to read the book, Calvin Trillin’s Eating with the Pilgrims and Other Pieces.

Trillin sets a pretty high standard when it comes to food writing—he’s been documenting travel and culinary adventure for the New Yorker since 1963—so it’s kind of surprising I hadn’t managed to read any of his books yet. Saying I was eager to dig into this one is putting it lightly, and it helps that it’s an easy read. A collection of essays, Eating with the Pilgrims is full of Trillin’s witty and thoughtful commentary on food. The title essay lays out his well-reasoned argument for changing the central dish of Thanksgiving to spaghetti carbonara (including a funny explanation of how Native American’s brought the Italian staple to that first pilgrim meal); while “The Magic Bagel” is a great investigative search for a long lost NYC bagel delight. The 12 essays cover regional specialities, historical insights, and Trillin’s musing on America’s appetite. It’s a great book for anyone looking for a quick, witty bite to read.

And although I was a little bummed to miss the book club and opportunity to talk about Trillin’s funny prose, I’m all the more excited to read, and attend the meeting for next month’s pick.


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