Food Whore is a deliciously devised debut novel from author Jessica Tom. Tom’s background in the culinary world not only lends a hand but creates a fantastic entrée of intrigue and enchantment. Still, some sections of Food Whore are simply too difficult to digest. Tom’s knowledge of ingredients and the manner in which they blend and tangle with your taste buds will make you wish you had an ounce of the culinary skill of her characters. These intense descriptions of the many delights encountered in the New York City dining landscape may leave the pages of your book damp with your own ardent saliva.
Like any fine dining experience this one begins with hors d’oeuvres at a finely set table. Though the tablecloth is silk, the diners are rayon; well-meaning and fine to gaze upon from a distance, but not quite well refined. Tia Monroe is a prodigy with culinary dreams. She will put herself on the plate of culinary legend Helen Lansky and acquire a coveted internship. When her dreams burn on the stove, she is salvaged by feared and powerful New York Times food critic Michael Salz.
The entrée is not au maigre. Michael Salz suffers from a condition of the tongue, aguesia, which prevents him from continuing his journey into the succulent world of foie gras and entrecôte. Impressed by Monroe’s written works, Salz hires her to deceive the culinary world. Working for Salz takes Monroe on a fascinating journey through the sophisticated world she longs to dine in, but quickly learns it isn’t all flambé and macaroons.
No entrée would be complete without its side and this one is starchy. Though Monroe’s personal goals have taken a backseat to the misstep of the professional, she is still determined to create a whipped mashed yam joy. Her tenacity sometimes leads to a lumpy, gluey concoction that only her inner circle can enjoy and only the truest of her inner circle can truly critique to better her skill.
For dessert Tom serves a tarte tatin, warm and gooey with the surprising prospect of emotional response. With this full meal behind, satisfaction is inevitable. You may even need a nap from impending food coma, but for some reason you will crave another helping.
Jessica Tom is a writer and food blogger living in Brooklyn. She has worked on initiatives with restaurants, hospitality startups, food trucks, and citywide culinary programs. She graduated from Yale University with a concentration in fiction writing and wrote the restaurant review for the Yale Daily News Magazine. Food Whore is her first novel.
by Jessica Tom
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 27, 2015)