The Upstairs Delicatessen
On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading
by Dwight Garner
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
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Pub Date 24 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2023
Garner gathers a literary chorus to capture the joys of reading and eating in this comic, personal classic.
Reading and eating, like Krazy and Ignatz, Sturm und Drang, prosciutto and melon, Simon and Schuster, and radishes and butter, have always, for me, simply gone together. The book you’re holding is a product of these combined gluttonies.
Dwight Garner, the beloved New York Times critic and the author of Garner’s Quotations, serves up the intertwined pleasures of books and food. The product of a lifetime of obsessively reading, eating, and every combination therein, The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading is a charming, emotional memoir, one that only Garner could write. In it, he records the voices of great writers and the stories from his life that fill his mind as he moves through the sections of the day and of this book: breakfast, lunch, shopping, the occasional nap, drinking, and dinner.
Through his lifelong infatuation with these twin joys, we meet the man behind the pages and the plates, and a portrait of Garner, eager and insatiable, emerges. He writes with tenderness and humor about his mayonnaise-laden childhood in West Virginia and Naples, Florida (and about his father’s famous peanut butter and pickle sandwich), his mind-opening marriage to a chef from a foodie family (“Cree grew up taking leftover frog legs to school in her lunch box”), and the words and dishes closest to his heart. This is a book to be savored, though it may just whet your appetite for more.
A Note From the Publisher
★ "An 'omnidirectionally hungry human being,' Garner has always paid attention to what has entered and exited the mouths and minds of writers. The narrative passes seamlessly between quotes and stories of literary and cultural greats, and this undeniably enjoyable wander through digestive habit has absurd and hilarious heights . . . Garner’s wit and dexterity with a quote will keep any reader with something tasty to eat or drink in hand captivated . . . A wonderful mix of culinary memoir, literary reference, how-to in indulgence. Grab some snacks and dig in." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 26 members
"The Upstairs Delicatessen" by Dwight Garner was an absolute delight from start to finish--I can't recommend this book enough. Organized in themed chapters entitled Breakfast, Lunch, Shopping, Drinking and Dinner, the book is a memoir, of sorts, of two of Garner's most important relationships: with food and with books. (His devotion to his wife, Cree, and his two children also comes through in the narrative.) In a breezy, conversational writing style, Garner takes us through his food memories, from comfort foods as humble as Hydrox cookies and milk after school to the almost ridiculous decadence of a 50-course lunch prepared by cookbook writer Nathan Myhrvold for him and El Bulli chef Ferran Adrià. Peppered liberally throughout are Garner's favorite literary excerpts about meals and eating as well as quotes from some of his favorite authors and personalities about food and drink. You'll love this book if you're either a foodie or a book lover, but if you happen to be both, your reading experience will be blissful. Make sure you have a pen in hand because you're going to want to highlight the entire book, and be forewarned that you will probably be unable to stop yourself from continually regaling anyone who happens to be in the vicinity with Garner's perfectly chosen quotes and witty asides. They will undoubtedly want to read the book, too--it is my new go-to hostess and birthday gift for practically everyone I know.
Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with an ARC of this title in return for my honest review. I loved every bit!
This book caught my eye and my interest for the food aspect as I love food, cooking, exploring and eating. Part of the blurb on this book really captured my imagination and made me want to read it even more.
"Reading and eating, like Krazy and Ignatz, Sturm und Drang, prosciutto and melon, Simon and Schuster, and radishes and butter, have always, for me, gone together. The book you’re holding is a product of these combined gluttonies."
This is a book you can pick up while having a cuppa and a snack, enjoying a story or two and then getting on with life. You then come back for more with a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers and again enjoy another story or two. That is what I love about this style of book. It is fun, enjoyable, entertaining!
Something different and interesting to read and that is also what I enjoyed. A book I would recommend to anyone who loves reading and loves their food. Enjoy!
Thank you NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.
“The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading, by Dwight Garner (NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB), Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 9780374603427, Publication Date 30 November 2023), earns four strong stars.
Dwight Garner penned a clever piece of work and a charming memoir that reveals how important what we eat (and when) is to who we are (and why). The approach is entrancing, taking us through the day’s meals and activities (even including naps). This entrancing journey not only reveals our makeup, but also why who and what we are is no accident. All of this is complemented by an accompanying theme of writers, writing, and books, all of which figures greatly in the author’s life and profession.
If you’re like me, you will be highlighting passages for later reference and contemplation and laughing aloud at his many musings and conclusions. It is definitely a book to be treasured by anyone who loves life and food…and reading. It’s a very stylish book and deserves a place on anyone’s favorite bookshelf.
Sincere thanks to the author, and Kindle Edition (PDF) and Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publishing, for granting this reviewer the opportunity to read this Advance Reader Copy (ARC), and thanks to NetGalley EPUB for helping to make that possible.
An impressive and enjoyable collection of stories on reading and eating – perhaps two of life’s greatest pleasures for the author Dwight Garner. The Upstairs Delicatessen is broken down into five chapters: breakfast, lunch, shopping, drinking, and dinner. I’d be remiss to say I didn’t appreciate Garner’s short section on napping, a mandatory and much enjoyed (pants off) daytime activity. The book is seasoned with humour, and woven throughout are tales about Garner, his wife, the cookbook author Cree Lefavour, and his kids.
Garner examines the works of Joan Didion, Eve Babitz, George Orwell, and Anthony Veasna So, to name a few, musing over fine sections on cuisine from their books. He writes on the rituals of dining, his own and others, all the way from breakfast to dinner. A walk through the grocery store mid-way through feels like pure bliss for Garner who pushes his cart from aisle to aisle describing the wares.
One gets the sense Garner has been preparing to write this book since childhood, collecting snippets of books, articles, and ads relating to food. I felt his passion on the topic soaked through every page.
For anyone who loves to read or to eat, or who loves the two combined, Dwight Garner’s The Upstairs Delicatessen is a great joy. For some, it will feel like a return to being a kid again, for others it will be an uplifting education. You may even be tempted to try a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. At the very least, you’ll close this book with many of the acclaimed book reviewer’s suggestions to add to your must-read list.
I so enjoyed this book about “eating, reading, reading about eating, and eating while reading!” Author Dwight Garner has really done his homework as he talks about famous authors, their books, and comments they have made, all regarding food and drink. Garner, himself a journalist, book reviewer, food critic and lover, has accumulated hundreds of quotes about food but also adds in some of his favorite life memories where food was an important “ingredient.”
He divides the book into chapters: Breakfast, Lunch, Shopping, Swim or Nap, Drinking, and Dinner. It feels like a day in which many people express their opinions about how much food and drink have impacted their lives.
It was fun, witty, educational, and scrumptious! I loved it and highly recommend it!
Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy.