Personalities abound in this week’s New York Times and Washington Post dining and food sections. In fact, “abound” is far too civil. They are splattered across the print like panty-less tabloid stars.
In the Post, Joe Yonan, author of the Cooking for One column, bristles at a reader’s very politely worded, I thought, suggestion that he “might find someone to share life/meals with.” He writes:
The Facebook comment was innocent enough, I guess; but frankly, I found it incredibly naive and even a little insulting. … Naturally, I’d love to share my life with someone. And I spend plenty of energy looking for and nurturing the possibility of good relationships. But until the right one comes along, I gotta eat, I gotta cook, and I’m determined to do both well. When I make myself dinner, I don’t pretend my true love is sitting across from me; I’m too busy eating.
No recipes this week. And I must point out that if Yonan doesn’t want to continue to get this kind of feedback, he might have a word with his editor or whoever writes his display copy. Past titles include (jeez, prepare yourself): “Soups That Make Me Feel Better”; “Make Friends With the Shallot”; “Personal Pizza Party: A Hot Time”; and “Hot Times in the Office Kitchenette.” He also coins the term: hangry, which means hungry and angry. I just have to look away.
And then (have you heard?!) Tim Carman has fallen in love with a local chef, and his article’s subject. I don’t get exactly why she should be of interest to me, the reader, but I did glean that she has, how do you say?, “charisma.” Oh, and “absolute confidence.” Not to mention “charm, intelligence and a made-for-television face.” But what I want to know is how does she make you feel? “She’s a walking antidepressant. She makes life seem more colorful whenever you’re around her.” I’m sorry, what about journalistic objectivity? “She likes to touch people lightly on the arm” and “she laughs as if everything you say is comedic gold.” Poor guy; he never had a chance.
To the rescue: One must-read is Andreas Viestad’s stand against the originality “myth” of modernist cuisine. Arty, out-there Filippo Martinelli called for a “ban on pasta” in Italy in 1926 and conceived of “a tactile dinner party” in his 1932 “Futurist Cookbook.” An excellent piece of history.
The Times is similarly people-probing but with less impact. Someone called “Cake Boss” bakes something; Charlie Trotter is a controlling jerk, but he also regularly gives extravagant tastings to teenagers from “rough” Chicago neighborhoods–is that a net positive?; and after the big wave, the nuclear fallout, and a little investigative reporting, it has been discovered that all the Japanese restaurants in the East Village are owned by one guy.