Today I am reviewing the A-Z of Eating Out by Joseph Connolly.
Connolly is a writer, journalist, book collector and determined champion of eating out. His publishers describe his latest book as an “Amuse bouche for dad…the perfect present for Father’s Day”.
As the A-Z name suggests, it is a gallivant through the culinary alphabet, informed by Connolly’s many years as a restaurant reviewer and private diner. This is a fun guide to dining, poking ridicule at laughable pretensions, and packed full of humorous anecdotes. As Connolly puts it “the accumulation of rather too much personal experience”!
Don’t know your amuse-bouche from your aperitif, your gourmets from your gourmands, your etiquette in a banquette? Connolly comes to your rescue, with a smorgasbord of tongue-in-cheek advice, top tips on securing elusive tables, being served special “off menu” dishes, avoiding extortionate charges and saving money. A meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant for £30, yes please!
Or perhaps you’re already a veritable foodie who already knows these trade secrets? For you there are foodie-facts, etymologies of culinary terms, quotes from famous food-lovers, not to mention the beautiful lithographs, vintage illustrations and photographs scattered throughout.
There are buckets of praise for things done well and scornful but humorous comments, always ringing with truth…
On special occasions “Along with all the other Great Days that have been invented and endlessly propagated by Hallmark, it’s a hellish time to be [dining] anywhere”.
On foraging: “byways, banks and bogs are scoured for the kinds of accumulation that traditionally people have, upon arriving home, scraped off the soles of their wellingtons.”
On loos: “…so lavish are the facilities in some of them that I constantly am amazed that the quarries in Italy and China still can have any trace of marble left in them.”
On reviews: “remember…a critic does not ever ‘give’ a good or a bad review, the restaurant earns it. “
So what of that claim of The A-Z of Eating Out being “the perfect present for Father’s Day”?
I’d say, not just for Father’s Day! It is a great book for dipping in and out of any day. This is a gift suitable for dining beginners to foodie experts – everyone will find witty snippets to amuse and inform. And who can resist a respected writer who uses a Spice Girl’s lyric for that final tricky Z of his A to Z?!
The A-Z of Eating Out by Joseph Connolly retails for £16.95 (hardback)