All Posts By Food Network Kitchen

It Came From the Library: Something about Cookbooks

by in News, November 23rd, 2009

For this librarian’s money the must-read article of last week was Adam Gopnik‘s brilliant, lyrical meditation on the pull of cookbooks and what they teach us about desire and disappointment. Though Gopnik at times risks overburdening the cookbook with significance (“Anyone who cooks knows that it is in following recipes that one first learns the anticlimax of the actual, the perpetual disappointment of the thing achieved.”), his essay got me thinking about why it is that this deep into the digital age, with old media fast collapsing around it, with the proliferation of blogs and unending flows of free content/recipes/instruction, the cookbook — the kind you can touch and stain and dogear and shelve, the object -- endures, a bright (i.e. profitable) spot in the beleaguered world of book publishing. And it seems to me that cookbooks have held up so well because as books go there is something fundamentally different about a cookbook. It’s an obvious point, but it’s not simply that a cookbook is also a sort of manual, a tool (plenty of self-help guides fit that description), or that a high percentage of cookbooks are purchased as gifts (it’s tough to wrap a bow around an e-book).

The difference, I think, is not in the uses the cookbook is put to; it runs deeper and relates to how a cookbook is, or rather is not, read. Because in a way we don’t read cookbooks so much as we reread cookbooks. Unlike other forms of printed matter, we return to cookbooks again and again. And in the process a relationship forms, an intimacy results. We need cookbooks on our shelves because their presence matters, because their materiality is a form of companionship, and because nothing the digital age has come up with confers presence, offers a person something they can form an attachment to. Respected newspapers my close, beloved magazines may shut down, but cookbooks, I suspect, won’t be going away any time soon.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

It Came From The Library: On Jonathan Gold

by in News, November 6th, 2009

The restaurant critic Jonathan Gold may have won a Pulitzer for criticism (the first food writer to do so), but I prefer to think of him as LA’s poet laureate. Check out the profile of Gold in this week’s New Yorker (subscription only) and you’ll understand why. Or better yet click on over to the LA Weekly for an all-you-can-read buffet of Gold’s writing. He’s the best.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Fritter, Happier

by in View All Posts, October 28th, 2009

Am pretty sure the latter was posted a few months ago, but is there a new trend I’m not aware of, of discussing food and wine in Radiohead terms?

From Jarrett Wrisley‘s piece in today’s Atlantic Food Channel:

And this: “Black pepper, cumin, soil and leather. Elegant. A hint of fruit, but not a lot…Cherries. They’re playing ‘Paranoid Android’, which is also nice.” I wrote that about the Meerea Park Terracotta 1998, which an iPod at the wine bar decided to pair with Radiohead’s best album. Welcome to the New World.

Then there was a Thomas Wines Kiss 2007 that was aggressively oaked and very fruity, and finally the Brokenwood Graveyard 2005. The Graveyard Shiraz is probably the Hunter’s most celebrated red. That wine, which was equal parts red fruit and savory earth, tasted like it would age wonderfully, but it was admittedly strange at first. Sort of like OK Computer.

Which is all completely fine, and understandable on the face of it, but in the context of my recently having seen this in McSweeney’s, I have to wonder.

(Unrelatedly, Daniel Maurer over at Grub Street had a whole analogy comparing David Chang to Fugazi-era Ian MacKaye, which I can totally get behind, though if it were my metaphor, I’d probably err on the side of Minor Threat-era.)

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Goats R Us

by in View All Posts, October 27th, 2009

Yeah, sure, I'll take care of your landscaping [photo courtesy Rent-A-Ruminant]
photo courtesy Rent-A-Ruminant
So I am sure there are all kinds of merits to goat-powered crop control, and I am sure it’s environmentally friendly, and they’re completely adorable, and all of that — but even if the entire industry didn’t exist, someone would have to invent it, if only to be able to have a company named “Rent-a-ruminant.”[via]

Meanwhile, The Onion provides the goat’s side of the story.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

More on Gourmet

by in View All Posts, October 7th, 2009

In another of a series of fantastic food articles in Salon, Alex van Buren sums up what I’ve been trying to articulate over the last couple days and haven’t been able to — that sure, it’s an easy cheap shot to call Gourmet elitist and out of touch, but one thing overlooked by all the Monday morning quarterbacks is that Gourmet was the rare magazine that managed to really capture the inherent emotionality of food, which I’m phrasing poorly, but that grasped that food could bring both joy and suffering, and told the stories of both. Van Buren on Reichl:

I would suggest that Ruth Reichl was not a snob, but — at her best — an egalitarian badass. She is a lover of food in all its sensuous, unruly glory. She put haute French chefs like Daniel Boulud in line for a food cart on the street. She ran features about politics and poverty — the life of a tomato laborer, a brilliant Chinese cook serving $7 entrées in Toronto, the travails of a restaurant parking valet. She asked Dominican novelist Junot Diaz to wax poetic about his Bronx childhood and sent readers from all corners of Gotham scurrying onto the 4/5 train to eat crunchy arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas).

The brilliant Julia Langbein, writing in New York magazine, has similar to say:

But what makes me sad about Condé Nast’s decision to shutter the magazine isn’t the death of this iconic American image of the good life, but rather the end of the kind of work done behind that image.

Me, I’m just sad. I’m sad for my friends who no longer have jobs, I’m sad for the industry that saw Gourmet as unsupportable, and I’m sad for the stories that won’t get told.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

It Came From The Library: Gourmet

by in View All Posts, October 5th, 2009

This morning I’m imagining the FN Library without Gourmet Magazine. From the stacks, I’m removing James Beard and M.F.K. Fisher; Jane Grigson and Roy Andies de Groot; Edna Lewis and John T Edge and Ruth Reichl and on and on, all the authors who at one time or other called Gourmet home. I’m imagining a skeleton library, a library impoverished, emptied of nearly all of its smartest, most evocative, most literate writing, of so many of my most beloved authors. These are the thoughts running across my mind as I mourn the sudden passing of Gourmet Magazine. And they leave me feeling ill.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Chanterelle, 30 years ago

by in View All Posts, October 2nd, 2009

Gael Greene breaks out the wayback machine, reposting her original 1979 review of the legendary, and  sadly-now-closed, Chanterelle:

youngdavidandkaren_jpeg

From the a la carte list, a splendid mille-feuille of gently poached oysters spiked with garlic and anchovy in cream, and perfectly cooked chicken in a tasty sauce scented with morels and chives. Ripe pears in a tea sabayon… And all this from a menu written, refreshingly…in English.

Highly recommend reading the whole thing, if only for the remarkable sense of perspective it gives you about the New York restaurant world over the last 30 years.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

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