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With all this talk about the home cooked meal with family—is it an elite foodie construct, a romantic ideal that make parents, moms in particular, guilty, or a source of spiritual calm and power in an increasingly busy and chaotic world—I offer this story from Cleveland about the most important meal ever, originally published in the magazine Finesse.–MR The last meal I shared with my dad, a little more than 12 hours before he breathed his last, was burgers on the grill. He loved them, and he’d been grilling them for me well into adulthood. He couldn’t have been hungry, but he dutifully ate two bites of a loaded-up rare burger. It must not have been easy, and we—grandkids, ex-wife and daughter-in-law—complimented him. Straining to keep his eyes open, he said the burger was good. Read On »

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The above photograph (by Donna Turner Ruhlman) is of family meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The below essay was originally published by Finesse, Thomas Keller’s magazine, in an issue that explores the notion of community. In light of the brouhaha begun last week over a study arguing that the family meal is a romantic ideal rather than a simply a good idea, an elite foodie construct that merely makes overstressed middle class moms feel guilty, I’m posting it here. On re-reading, it may seem a bit over the top. But then …?   Is “Community” Important? Community. How nice. Hippies bagging granola in co-ops. Neighbors spending an afternoon weeding a communal garden filled with tomatoes and basil, bell peppers and a couple of bean plants. Isn’t that special? How Berkeley! Let’s make it Read On »

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photo by donna turner ruhlman

Last spring, having damaged my knee, I called for an appointment to visit the doc. My usual internist was gone and so, providentially, his colleague Roxanne Sukol saw me. I say providentially because she has a great interest in how this country eats and in helping Americans become better informed amid so much contradictory information and harmful marketing in the media. Dr. Sukol, who knew my work, launched almost immediately into descriptions of stripped carbs and insulin levels and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, emphasizing that our national discussion should stop talking “healthy eating” and start talking “nutritious eating.” She positively captivated me. As she attended to my knee, I asked to meet with her at a later date and subsequently wrote a short blog post about our conversation. “WE are HEALTHY,” she told me, Read On »

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It’s summertime, for crying out loud! Nothing beats the smell of the smoke when hot fat hits hot coals. Grilling alone is a primal pleasure. Grilling among friends is a social pleasure. The flavor of a grilled burger is different from that of one fried in a cast iron pan–it takes on many complexities of the smoke, and if you’ve built a really hot fire, flames will lick the burger, adding even more complex Maillard flavors from all these differing heat levels. Grilled burgers have incomparable flavor for these reasons.   Why am I going on about the greatness, the inimitable deliciousness of the all-American summertime staple? Because my pal Michael Symon urged people, in the NYTimes of all places, to avoid using a grill because, “A grill is too difficult.”   Let me repeat Read On »

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Cleveland Clinic Preventative Medicine Physician Roxanne Sukol (photos by Donna). I injured my knee this spring during my travels and, home for just two days in April, was able to make an appointment; my usual doctor was out, but another internist had an opening. She entered and I introduced myself. She said, “I know who you are.” Why? She is medical director of the Wellness Enterprise at The Cleveland Clinic and has her own well-trafficked food blog, Your Health Is on Your Plate, which addresses how to eat well. I, a Fat-Is-Good-For-You-Eat-More-Pork-Well-Salted proselytizer, well aware that the august Cleveland Clinic hews to the old-school fat-and-salt-are-evil party line, went on guard. Yet within moments Dr. Sukol was rattling away excitedly about stripped and intact carbs and fiber matrixes, riveting me. With what seemed near despair, she said, “We Read On »

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