Cover image for Stalking the green fairy and other fantastic adventures in food and drink
Stalking the green fairy and other fantastic adventures in food and drink
Villas, James.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : J. Wiley, 2004.
Physical Description:
viii, 310 pages ; 25 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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TX801 .V515 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Food Writer of the Year (Bon Appetit, 2003) Takes You on His Quest for the Ultimate Culinary Experiences... This book reveals]... the positively Sherlockian discipline and brilliance of Mr. Villas on the scent of any culinary mystery he feels possessed to unravel.

Author Notes

James Milton Villas was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on February 10, 1938. He received a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and a doctorate in Romance languages and comparative literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He taught French Romanticism at the University of Missouri and Rutgers University before switching careers.

After several of his freelance articles were accepted by food and travel magazines, he was hired as an assistant editor at Esquire. He was the food and wine editor of Town & Country magazine from 1972 until 1999. He wrote 12 cookbooks including My Mother's Southern Kitchen: Recipes and Reminiscences, Pig: King of the Southern Table, and Southern Fried: More Than 150 Recipes for Crab Cakes, Fried Chicken, Hush Puppies, and More. He won four James Beard Awards for his prolific and tart commentary in books and magazines. He also wrote a memoir entitled Between Bites: Memoirs of a Hungry Hedonist and several novels including Dancing in the Lowcountry, Hungry for Happiness, and Love Dog. He died on August 17, 2018 at the age of 80.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

With this lively collection of essays on topics ranging from the pleasures of commercial peanut butter to the wonders of home-cured gravlax, former Town and Country food and wine editor Villas is in top form, displaying the humor, intelligence and strong-mindedness that have made him the South's proud answer to Jeffrey Steingarten. Whether defending Southern regional dishes beloved by "rebs," such as grits, fruitcake and pimento cheese, or attacking the pretensions of foodie snobs and "rubes" who think raw tuna goes with everything, Villas refuses to be pushed around by fashion. Instead, he is a man on a mission to understand and celebrate what is authentic about his greatest epicurean passions, from canned tuna to vintage champagne rose. Though eloquent in his forays overseas as he seeks out the perfect salade ni?oise or the illicit history of absinthe (the green fairy of the title), North Carolina-born Villas truly shines when he's on American soil. His odes to such American staples as the Club sandwich, chicken salad, meatloaf, iceberg lettuce and chowder are classic, combining personal anecdote, history and the author's own enticing recipes. The book loses a bit of steam in the final section, where Villas's contrarian take on everything from lemongrass to sharing food in restaurants descends into crankiness. But at his best, in the grip of an enthusiasm whether it's buying Chateau d'Yquem sauterne at auction or rhapsodizing about bulk shopping at Costco Villas will delight foodies as well as his loyal fans. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Villas, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author (Biscuit Bliss) and Bon App?tit's 2003 Food Writer of the Year, is passionate about good food. He has gathered here a most splendid collection of his culinary musings. Writing with wry wit and easy grace, Villas ponders such humble foodstuffs as lettuce and sourdough bread, dishes up a paean to the unique culinary treats of the South (including grits), explores the intoxicating world of absinthe (the "green fairy") and other liquors, and finishes with his ideas on more practical matters such as the art of restaurant reservations. Fortunately for readers-who are sure to be ravenous after reading Villas's delicious prose-nearly all of his essays include a couple of tempting recipes. This rich, nourishing book is highly recommended for public libraries, especially those where other culinary anthologies such as Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking or Teresa Lust's Pass the Polenta are popular.-John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Jeremiah Tower
Forewordp. vii
Introduction: Declarations of a Hungry Sleuthp. 1
Part 1 Rebel Scout
Southern Pigp. 8
King of Dixie Stewsp. 17
The Slime Factorp. 27
True Gritsp. 36
PC and Proud of Itp. 46
Debunking Fruitcakep. 52
A Few Crucial Words About Ice' Teap. 57
Part 2 Star-Spangled Adventures
Cheapskate Shoppingp. 60
Primal Steakp. 69
The Mystery of Lactobacillus Sanfranciscop. 77
Pumpkin Powerp. 85
Chowder Chow Downp. 93
Wild in the Woodsp. 103
Chicken Salad Chicp. 112
Part 3 Comfort Me with Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf Maniap. 122
Gastronomic Goop. 127
Ode on a Can of Tunap. 133
Iceberg Aheadp. 136
Join the Clubp. 143
Redressing the Spudp. 147
Part 4 Foreign Foraging
The Grate Onep. 158
In Silence, in Coolness, and in Shadowp. 165
Sexy Soupp. 170
Riviera Saladp. 176
Savory Piep. 184
Italy's Sweet "Pick-Me-Up"p. 191
Seviche and Other Compositions from the Seap. 195
Part 5 Potable Pursuits
Stalking the Green Fairyp. 206
Dear Little Waterp. 218
Bubbly I Pink Extravagancep. 224
Bubbly II Grand Sham-Pagnesp. 230
Liquid Goldp. 239
Super Sudsp. 246
Byob Revisitedp. 254
Part 6 Dispatch from the Restaurant Arena
Dining in the Playpenp. 258
The Frugal Gourmandp. 263
Respect Mother Naturep. 267
Wine Savvyp. 274
The Reservations Warp. 280
A Shameless Update on Greasing Palmsp. 285
Hogwashp. 290
The Question of Civilityp. 294
Acknowledgmentsp. 299
Indexp. 300