Review by Liz Williams of Hungry Town by Tom Fitzmorris
Although it is billed on the cover as “A Culinary History of New Orleans: The City Where Food is Almost Everything” Tom Fitzmorris’ book is really an exploration of the last 40 years or so of the development of the modern New Orleans table. I wasn’t disappointed to learn that the entire history of eating in New Orleans isn’t contained between those covers. I have lived through the changes that he describes and enjoyed both his perspective and the nostalgic reminders.
Hungry Town is also a very personal book. It tells the story of Fitzmorris’ development as a radio personality and food writer. His genesis from person who just knows what he likes to someone who really knows about food and knows what he likes, is fascinating. The close relationships that he has developed with chefs and restaurant owners, their influence on him and on his taste, and the influences of other things on his maturing palate are detailed with a friendly insouciance. This isn’t namedropping. Fitzmorris really grew up professionally with all of the well known names in his book.
Fitzmorris also relates his very important role in reporting on the return of restaurants to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The website that he used to do that reporting is still going strong. Fitzmorris has a wry sense of humor which serves him well when he writes about himself and his role in re-establishing the cultural identity of New Orleans.
If you are a follower of the New Orleans food scene, you should definitely read this book. It is an easy and very pleasant read. The bonus in the book is that there are recipes, including Fitzmorris’ own version of Oysters Rockefeller, which he says Bernard Guste, from the family that still owns Antoine’s, has called embarrassingly close to the original.