It’s not New York City or Los Angeles but Grand Forks, North Dakota, an average American city, and for the last 25 years Marilyn Hagerty has written Eatbeat, a column of restaurant reviews. The restaurants are truck stops, locally owned, fast food, and large restaurant chains, but for all the familiarity there is a story. The reviews are in chronological order and follow the changes in the way America eats out from the simple salad bar of the eighties to the emergence of sports bar and the infiltration of the restaurant chains.
She approaches each review not as a critique, but as a reporter. The reviews are not insulting but supportive often with comments from the owners or tidbits about the waiter or waitress. She includes the prices and what everyone at the meal ate with a small comment on the quality of the food. Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews is a subtle book that easily flows from one review to the next and in the end leaves an impression of the food and people who make it and enjoy it.