Baseball is a game that is identified with food. We even sing about it at every ballpark during the seventh inning stretch: “….buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…” The famous song was written by Jack Norworth in 1908. From the early part of the twentieth century until the 1980s, classic baseball fare consisted mostly of hot dogs, ice cream, peanuts, and Cracker Jack. Then ballparks slowly began to sell new items. A proliferation of new food offerings during the 1990s was fueled by the opening of twelve new major league ballparks. Now, teams around the country sell a variety of exotic food. Some stadiums have gone all out to showcase unique, gourmet-style food. Many parks emphasize regional food as well as having offerings from well-known local restaurants. There are also several ballparks where retired ballplayers are shaping new careers as signature food purveyors. “The new food era has brought such a wonderful gustatory experience at the ballparks with chef-prepared masterpieces, vegetarian and kosher delights, as well as amped up riffs on the hot dog and sausage,” says Bennett. The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine begins with the history of the first hot dog at a ball game and concludes with a culinary tour of all 30 major league ballparks.
My take: If you have an avid baseball fan in your life The Joy of Ballpark Food would be an excellent choice for a Fathers Day or birthday gift. Bennett Jacobstein starts with the arrival of the hotdog in America, its place in baseball history and then moves on to the amazing culinary treats offered at the Major League ballparks. I was pleased to see my hometown Miller Park highlighted where, lately, the concessions are more palatable than the action on the field *sigh*. Any fan will enjoy paging through the book to see what other regions of the US and Canada offer in the way of concessions. Deborah Jacobstein’s photographs of various offerings brighten almost every page. The paperback edition is coffee table size and is sure to spark conversation. Recommended.
About the author: Bennett Jacobstein lives in San Jose, CA. He is a retired librarian and publisher of demographic materials. He currently works during the baseball season in the concessions stand at Municipal Stadium, home of minor league baseball’s Class A Advanced San Jose Giants. Every minor leaguer dreams of making it to the big leagues. Bennett had his dream fulfilled when he worked as a concessions stand substitute at three Oakland Athletics games during the 2013 season. He enjoys both baseball and food but considers himself a much better eater than ball player. He had a two-year Little League career in which he went two seasons without getting a hit. HIs only RBI was when he got hit by the pitch with bases loaded. When not batting or sitting on the bench, he would be found in right field praying that the ball didn’t get hit to him. The three greatest days of his life were the day he married his wife Debbie, the day his daughter Aviva was born, and the day he first successfully replaced the nachos cheese bag in the dispenser at the San Jose Giants’ concession stand. Bennett published The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine in January 2015. It is available for sale on Amazon. All of the royalties from the sale of The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine are being donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. To learn more, Go to http://www.ballparkfood.org/
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