“More Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” by Guy Fieri is a must-read for fans of the Food Network show, and a good bet for anyone who likes middle-brow food.
No foie gras here — only lots of burgers, hot dogs, chili and all the usual suspects along with lesser-known treats such as haluski (a Pittsburgh favorite via Poland, featuring cabbage and noodles) and scrapple (basically, cornmeal and pork).
At least this scrapple recipe doesn’t include liver. Good thing, because apparently Guy doesn’t eat liver. He doesn’t like eggs, either, so he’s not big on most breakfasts and they get pretty short shrift in the book.
The first part of the book consists of a Q-and-A with Guy, a section by producer David Page about how the show is put together and a section on the road crew. Then we get started with the main ingredient: Restaurants and recipes.
The book is divided into four regions: Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, and West and Southwest. Each restaurant gets a summary, generally including some of its history and information about the folks who own or run them, what kind of food it serves and what its specialties are. If you’ve seen the show, you know that there are a lot of interesting characters in these joints.
Each restaurant features a recipe or two. Sometimes it’s the restaurant’s recipe, sometimes an adaptation from Guy.
Most of the recipes sound doable for the home cook, but there are a couple that are a bit involved. Suffice it to say, you won’t find me making a turducken anytime soon. But whether you cook or not, it all makes for interesting reading.
I will mention that the tone of the book is very “Guy”, so it reads pretty much like he speaks. If you find him annoying, you’ll find the book annoying as well. If you like his verbal stylings, you’ll enjoy the book all the more.
If reading the book whets your appetite, within driving range (depending on how far you feel it’s reasonable to drive for food) are The BBQ Shack in Paola, Kan., Bobo Drive-In in Topeka and Café on the Route in Baxter Springs.
There are no Missouri restaurants in the book, although there were two Kansas City restaurants and one St. Louis restaurant in the previous compilation, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” (which the library also owns). All the restaurants that have appeared on the show are listed in the back, so if you saw one on the show and didn’t get all the info, you can find it here.
While we’re on the subject, if you missed the Travel Channel’s Food Wars episode “Fried Chicken War” about Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s by Pittsburg, it will air again at 9:30 p.m. on April 20.
This is not the first time, by the way, that the “chicken wars” have received national attention. Calvin Trillin wrote about them in his “U.S. Journal” series for the New Yorker back in 1982.
If you’d like to know what he said about Annie’s and Mary’s, check out our copy of “The Tummy Trilogy.” There are about forty of Trillin’s pieces on food included and, in addition to being about food (obviously one of my favorite subjects), Trillin is a fine and funny writer. We also have his later book “Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties from Kansas City to Cuzco.” Check it out!