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May 1, 2006 01:27 PM

The Tummy Trilogy: American Fried, Alice Let's Eat, and Third Helpings

  • k

Just finished it up, finally, and wanted to know your thoughts.

I liked the first section, or book rather the most. Some of his stories are interesting, while others not so much.

Now more importantly, which of the restaurants in the US and around the world are still around given that he wrote the last book in the series over two decades ago?

I know that his favorite cue joint Arthur Bryant's is still around, along with a newly opened takeout fried chicken joint from Maurice Prince of Maurice Snack n' Chat fame. But what others are still around.

Oh, and if you haven't read it, you should. This is the portrait of a chowhound, Calvin Trillin, before the word and website came around

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  1. Trillin's riff on the horrors of being ushered to the local version of "La Maison de la Casa House" instead of the best example of what's locally unique should be treated as Chowhound Scripture. Thankfully, though, that kind of purveyor of continental cuisine and all things generically fancy seems to be less prevalent than it once was.

    1. Well, I don't know if it's too late to post here, or if it will pop up somehow. But I was looking for another old post and just came across this one, and I have to say, this is one of my favorite books. Of course, I like nearly anything Calvin Trilin writes, but these pieces are particularly charming. I once made a substantial trip from a suburban Kansas City conference location into the city (had to buy a map and everything (must have been pre-mapquest)) just to try Arthur Bryant's and to bring a couple bottles of sauce home to the family. (We think Trillin should try Hecky's, near Chicago, our local barbecue; Bryant's was a bit of a disappointment, but probably it is just what style of barbecue a person is used to.)

      Trillin's idea of great local places (and always, the people who do the cooking), with a real sense of history/geography/personality is what I think of chowhounding as being all about. Anybody with enough (a lot of) money can go to the high end places, they're pretty well known; finding the old local specialties takes more 'hounding' work.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Anne H

        I agree that "American Fried" is the strongest of the three books, but to me that's like saying Brothers Karamazov is better than The Idiot and Crime & Punishment.

        True, but all are worth reading.

        It's hard to separate the Chowhoundiness of the book from the miraculous prose -- Trillin is nothing less than one of our greatest stylists, and I'd read him write about anything.

        My all-time piece about food is the chapter in AF in which Trillin follows Fats Goldberg around on his eating Crusade back in beloved KC. It's a classic.