Last election, I put up a big “Vote Obama” post in light of what I considered to be eight disastrous years of Bush, unnecessary war, and an economy that was going to take well more than four years to fix. I was at first surprised by some of the angry comments I got. A reader named Art wrote, “You’re a consommate [sic] chef. Leave it at that. Keep your friggin’ political opinions to yourself,” followed two minutes later by Joe: “Because you can cook, you can tell me for whom I’m to cast my vote? I don’t think so. Keep it in the kitchen—not the voting booth.” My response was more or less, “This site is my fucking yard and I can put up whatever sign I want.” And this led to more comments, pro Read On »

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The word is passion and I used to hear it from chefs. “I can teach you to cook, but I can’t teach passion,” they would say. I took this at face value from so many chefs I can’t tell you, until I didn’t anymore because I realized it meant exactly nothing. Thomas Keller, the chef from whom I have learned the most, and the most by far, noted this a while back as well. Passion is the wrong word, he said. Desire was what he wanted to see in a young cook. What, really, though, is that elusive quality that makes a great chef, a great musician, a great anything? It’s not passion, and I’m not sure it’s desire either. A lot of people have passion for something they aren’t good at. In my twenties Read On »

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  Last week’s reports calling into question the benefits of fish oil pills pissed me off because they remind me yet again how utterly credulous (i.e., stupid) the general public seems to be about what is good for them and what is bad for them. I suppose it’s not their fault given all the confusing messages media spreads through our culture. Just last night ABC Nightly News reported a new staggering health threat for our children. Watch the story here—click “New Major Health Issue.” Diane Sawyer intones ominously, “The threat… iiis … salt.” Reporter Sharon Alfonsi then goes on to cite the damning evidence: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Ragu Tomato Sauce, and Captain Crunch. NOT ONCE DO THEY SAY THE THREAT IS PROCESSED FOOD! NOT ONCE DO THEY SAY PARENTS ARE ADDING TOO MUCH KOSHER SALT TO Read On »

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Today I wish a happy Independence Day to all my smart, vigorously commenting, articulate, wonderful readers who make this blog so exciting to write. Many of you come here to read about food and drink, for the occasional recipe, or to enjoy my wife’s excellent photography, but I’m guessing from the comments and from which posts are most read, that people come back because I’m an independent thinker and writer about food and cooking. I, with my friend and collaborator, Brian Polcyn, wrote a love song to animal fat and salt in a fat- and salt-phobic country. Earlier this week, I moved to make July Butter Is a Vegetable month (because it is, if you think about it right) even though every doctor in America will warn you away from too much butter (no matter that Read On »

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I’d like to declare July as “Butter Is a Vegetable” month. We live in an era where our food is being legislated against, so before anyone takes away my freedom to eat as much goddam butter as I want, I’d like to make sure it’s defined clearly, and in a way that makes it difficult for the Supreme Court to shut down or California to outlaw (“Will you look at the awful way they’re treating that cream! They’re churning it to death! No more butter! No more butter!”). Thus my campaign to define butter as the vegetable it is. Dan Barber recently wrote in an excellent Wall Street Journal opinion piece that even vegetables take their toll on the earth, drawing up valuable nutrients that they store and give to us, the eaters  (“there is no Read On »

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