I first learned about The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard three years before it had taken its shape as an expansive biography and meditation on queer foodways. In October of 2017, John Birdsall and several other food writers came together at New York University to discuss the intersections between gay foodies, queer politics, and food writing. That evening, Birdsall discussed the shadowy lives led by a number of twentieth-century American tastemakers, including celebrity chefs and food writers Richard Olney, Craig Claiborne, and James Beard; all of them were gay, and the conspicuous omission of their sexuality from their public personae and biographies points to the stigmatization stemming from nonheterosexual orientation. In his book, Birdsall continues this discussion. He illuminates in dazzling detail the queer lives of many of the United States’ culinary elites, weaving...

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