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Fun Food Facts by Mike Bellino

by Michael Chu
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If you're like me, you love trivia. I enjoy all sorts of trivia in areas that I find interesting - science, computers, math, geography, world culture, television, film, and, of course, food. Mike Bellino, an electrical engineer who now focuses on microfarming, published a book last year that helps to fulfill my need for food trivia. It's called Fun Food Facts and it really is a fun read.

There's no plot or story arc in Fun Food Facts. It's just a collection of interesting food facts laid out in question and answer format one after another in categories like "Butter" or "Vitamins" or "Wine and Beer". Each question is short (generally a few words long: "Why are Greek olives so bitter?") and each answer is often only a paragraph long.

Books like Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking provide deep satisfaction for my food trivia craving, but, because of it's level of detail and scope, it's often difficult to pick up On Food and Cooking for pleasure reading. Every topic is discussed in a great level of detail and sometimes it reads like a food encyclopedia for the scientifically obsessed (which I am... but not always). (An interesting note is that the longest entry from Fun Food Facts is a brief history of how modern breakfast cereals came to be reprinted from On Food and Cooking.)

When looking for more food trivia, but in more manageable quantities, I read Robert Wolke's What Einstein Told His Cook and its sequel. Wolke's book is basically a reprint of many food and science essays written in response to reader questions. Each essay is a page or two long, but fairly unrelated to each other (it is a collection of previously written work after all). What Einstein Told His Cook is really closer to pleasure reading for me than anything else - I don't use the books for reference since I have copies of On Food and Cooking around. Even so, there's only the two books and the entries are long enough that I only have time to read one or two at a time.

Bellino's Fun Food Facts is similar to the What Einstein Told His Cook series (except a little better organized) and in small bites. There is no doubt that Fun Food Facts is pleasure reading. Each tidbit of info is interesting and, best of all, short. The brevity leads to reading the next fun fact and then the next one because it's easy to find another 30 seconds to read a little bit more. Having read both On Food and Cooking and the What Einstein Told His Cook series, Fun Food Facts was a great way to continue with more food trivia. If you haven't read McGee's or Wolke's works, then Fun Food Facts is probably a great way to pique your interest since the material is so accessible.

If Fun Food Facts a fun book to read? Yes, definitely! If you like trivia and you like food, you'll enjoy this book.

Fun Food Facts is available in the following formats:
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Written by Michael Chu
Published on May 28, 2009 at 09:41 PM
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