The late Raymond Walter “Johnny” Apple, Jr. assumed many roles over his 40-plus-year career at The New York Times
: bureau chief in Albany, Lagos, Nairobi, Saigon, Moscow, London, and Washington D.C.; correspondent during 10 presidential races; Vietnam War reporter — and truly passionate eater. This last role gets top billing in a new collection of Apple’s artciles that is fiesty, painstakingly researched, and often simply mouthwatering. The more than 50 essays in Far Flung and Well Fed
($27; St. Martin’s Press) first appeared in Saveur
, the Times
, and Town & Country
. Apple began compiling the book before his death in 2006; his stepdaughter Catherine Collins stepped in to finish it with the editors. Organized geographically, the book follows Apple’s travels throught the Americas, Europe, and Asia. The collection describes characters such as Oregon morel hunter Jack Czarneck; tidy history lessons, like how the popularity of San Marzano tomatoes led to the rise of the Italian canning industry in the 1800s; and regional cuisines, celebrating, for example, Philadelphia’s water ices, cheesesteaks, hoagies, scrapple, and soft pretzels.
Apple, well-versed in virtually all culinary styles and subjects, kept a small bag packed with Tabasco sauce and a tiny pepper mill in case of a sudden call abroad. As his friend Calvin Trillin once wrote: “Apple is someone who seems equally famished whether he’s sitting down to dinner at a three-star French restaurant or at a crab shack; he is what A.J. Liebling would have called, admiringly, a feeder.”
From the Fall 2009 issue of Sherman’s Travel magazine.