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I’m in NYC to sign advance reader copies of my first fiction ever, non-food related. Love stories, actually: In Short Measures. Very excited, and nervous of course. One never knows, but just today one of my favorite novelists, Kate Christensen, who wrote the fabulous Epicure’s Lament, the food-themed but deeply personal memoir Blue Plate Special, and The Great Man, winner of the Pen/Faulkner award for fiction, sent me these uncommonly generous, and she says completely genuine, words in support of the book: “IN SHORT MEASURES is a propulsively well-written trio of novellas linked by a sense of loss and an inquiry into the impossible past. Ruhlman’s voice is poetic and visceral, and his characters feel both familiar and strange in the way of the best fiction. This is a richly layered book, full of surprises and Read On »

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I’m off today to the coast of Massachusetts to write a magazine story on oysters. I’m very excited as I’ve never been to an oyster farm. Oysters are truly among the most unique creatures we eat. But why do they inspire us so? Their gorgeous shells (above photo by Donna). An oyster is one of the few things we we eat that’s still alive. They express “terroir” the way wines do. The fact of wanting to eat this living, slippery organism is counterintuitive. And as a French writer proclaimed, “Eating an oyster is like kissing the sea on the lips!” In preparing for this story, I returned to Rowan Jacobsen’s 2007 book A Geography of Oysters and was reminded of what a talented writer Jacobsen is—dynamic and clear and engaging and informed and imaginative. If I Read On »

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I’m writing today to introduce a writer whom readers of this site may not know, Chris Offutt. I didn’t know his work until a friend sent me his essay “Trash Food,” published in the Oxford American, a fine magazine devoted to exploring southern culture. From here I went to an essay titled “Chicken Eggs.” Maybe you read about him recently in his essay in the NYTimes magazine about his pornographer father (an essay that landed him on Fresh Air shortly after), from his upcoming memoir. But it was his “Chicken Eggs” that so affected me, and also made me wonder why some “literary” writers reach a large popular audience and others don’t. Because judging from “Chicken Eggs” alone, this writer deserves a larger audience. In this essay, he writes a lot about eggs, a subject dear Read On »

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This is my new favorite cookbook. I’ve long made a fuss about not liking cookbooks, because I don’t. Cookbooks are too often about recipes, and that’s not what cooking is about. I tried to write an anti-cookbook, Ratio, that intended to help the home cook rely on proportions and technique rather than recipes. It had a ton of recipes in it anyway (editor request). I admired books with a genuine voice, David Lebovitz‘s books, Judi Rodgers’s Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Well-written cookbooks. I didn’t dislike recipes per se. I still rely on a page torn from Saveur with a fabulous falafel recipe—too many ingredients to remember, let alone their proportions. I have to look at my own recipe for fried chicken to make the seasoned flour (included in the above book above, happily). So what is it Read On »

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_COVER Mastering Pasta

I’d like to use Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri‘s new book to rejoice in pasta. It’s called Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto I love pasta! Carbs! Bring them on! How have we brought this upon ourselves? This Anti-Carb Nation. This Gluten-Fearing Country. If I were texting this, I would conclude with my avatar and the new Bitmoji offering: Cray-Cray! (I admit to spending too much time trying to create entire narratives with my Bitmoji avatar.) Seriously, it’s time for us to TAKE BACK OUR PASTA! Vetri’s book (written with the excellent David Joachim) is a fine place to start, with everything you need to know about pasta and making it and shaping it. Indeed, I especially liked the chapter on hand-shaped pastas, probably because I will never spend three hours shaping lorighittas Read On »

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