Everyone else may be grabbing the October issue of Vanity Fair for the gooey smiles of TomKat & baby Suri, but foodies are snapping it up for the excerpt from The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, by VF editor and frequent Gourmet contributor David Kamp.

The book is a story of personalities—Julia Child, James Beard, Craig Claiborne —and the movements and food-world stars that followed in their wakes, including (naturally!) that boomer-foodie pinup Alice Waters and her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse.

Kamp’s been stumping vigorously for his book, arriving with a plate of prosciutto on the set of the Today show last Friday (devoured by Matt Lauer once the cameras stopped rollling, according to Kamp). So far, the buzz in the book-review blogosphere is pretty positive; Kamp is a savvy writer, and plenty of folks still have an appetite for more dish on Julia, James, Jeremiah, and Alice, even though, as Kamp writes, “As with all things great and boomerish—the rock music of the ‘60s, the civil-rights movement, Rolling Stone magazine in its heyday—the magnitude of Chez Panisse’s achievements is tempered by a certain cloying self-aggrandizement.”

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