Gary Shteyngart is not a food writer. He’s a novelist, and – with Tuesday’s release of Little Failure – a memoirist. But even if there aren’t baguettes and vodka bottles in every scene he stages, food is central to his work: As he told the New York Times in 2011, “I wander (New York City’s) streets — my mind attuned to the idea, ‘Must feed … must feed … must feed’ — but the wandering is really an excuse to look at the city and to reacquaint myself, consider how things are changing.”
During the outing recounted for the Times, Shteyngart polished off a Northern Chinese lamb burger; liang pi cold skin noodles; porchetta; trippa alla Romana and a vodka tonic.
Today, Shteyngart’s in Charleston for the very first time: His only prior experience with South Carolina was a roadtrip to Dallas which wound through Gaffney. So what does a writer who cares deeply about food eat in a city which does the same?
Shteyngart wasn’t sure when I asked him: His handlers made his meal arrangements, which turned out to include a boxed lunch from Husk. Dinner, though, was still undecided as of this afternoon: The leading contenders from the fairly long list of restaurants where his friends made reservations were The Macintosh and Two Boroughs Larder (which, sadly, doesn’t serve vodka.)