A History of American Dining in 100 Reviews
by Marilyn Hagerty
With a forward by Anthony Bourdain
With more than 100 different reviews of restaurants in North Dakota, this sounds like a snooze, but it's really a beautiful representation of how small towns have changed over the years. When she talks about blue plate specials, and Norwegian dishes, there's a wonderful love of community in her writing.
I originally picked this one up as a nonfiction read for North Dakota for my Reading the States project, and I'm glad I did. Since my goal with the project is to get a better feel for each state, I think this book does just that. Hagerty paints a picture of this area of the country through their stomachs.
Yes, they are reviews of restaurants you will probably never go to. That's not really what the book is about, it's a chronicle of how small-town America and the food they eat has changed over the years. Once upon a time a new Arby's opening in town was big news and sushi was a foreign concept that most Midwesterners were wary of. You can also see how the styles of food are reflected in the area, there’s lots of Norwegian food because were North Dakota. I love that there's pieces of the town’s history sprinkled throughout the reviews as well. There was a huge flood in 1997 that caused many of Grand Fork’s restaurants to close. A new restaurant that opened after the tragedy included a note on its menus that said, “Time will pass, our city will heal, but the strength encourage of its residents will never be forgotten.”
BOTTOM LINE: I wouldn’t recommend this unless you really want a taste of small town American restaurants. It absolutely provides that, but it’s also exactly what it sounds like, a collection of reviews of restaurants in Grand Forks, North Dakota.