Given that the food world so often feels like seventh grade, it was rather entertaining if not reassuring to see the whole world acting like the food world. The Big O wins the equivalent of 30 stars from Michelin and everyone reacts as if the Schnorrer did the honor? The race is definitely not to the swift.
The hometown paper must have realized it blew the Lukins obit big time, complete with the most ludicrous hed in recent history, but the Week in Review followup only made the crime more indefensible. I guess Sheila should be flattered she got the Cronkite treatment at least, with errors of both fact and omission in her life story. But the cluelessness on who she was and the extent of her impact — on everything from food to publishing — was jaw-dropping. A sportswriter could do a better job finishing off Jancis Robinson. And then they had to go on to run that beyond ridiculous piece on home entertaining. Who’s this “we” of which you speak? If the same paper and “Good Times” were running pasta primavera recipes in 1985, I kinda doubt it was over by the time people were enthralled with chicken Marbella. Calling pasta with pesto “as dated as shoulder pads” was also laughable — what was on the menu at the last party I went to, and on ours last night? At least she didn’t quote the usual quote whore, who managed to insult the dead (“got no respect”? WTF?) And she got Rosso’s name right, unlike a certain expert I heard on radio who was also, like the obit writer, nowhere near informed enough for prime time. But even our dining room table wonders on what planet the perpetrator spends most of her time.
And since even I am obviously incapable of resisting the celluloid meth of the summer, I have to add that I’m a big admirer of Madeleine Kamman’s recipes; her roasted duck legs changed the way we eat. But I like a catfight as much as anyone else and so appreciated the dredging up of the old rivalry with Mme Child. It’s yet another gauge of character that the nastiness was kept buried until she was. Could you imagine that today? I Feel Bad About My Dreck should consider making a sequel: “No Reservations, Rachael.” Targeted at two such disparate audiences, it would be a blockbuster.
Occasionally I hear some editor is mortally wounded by some snide thing I’ve typed and I’m always amazed. It’s not personal. Peccadillos are for pecking, aren’t they? And I’m resigned to what a friend noted eons ago when I first started freelancing: No one said you have to die solvent. But I sometimes still have to stop and wonder why cranks get ostracized and crazies stay on good terms. Which most recently came to mind when I saw the judges for a certain contest and remembered the wild story I heard about a press trip in France: Booze in prodigious quantities, underwear out the window, chocolate up the wazoo. And this is your ambassador? Sticks and stones are messy. Words must really hurt.
I understand there was some discussion elsewhere about how expense accounts have also skewed food coverage at a certain outlet since the heyday of the most legendary manly women’s editor. And I was half-sorry to have missed that forum, to the point that I was tempted by a followup a couple of nights later. Which I was very glad to have missed when this report was filed in my email: One panelist “delivered hagiographic memories,” another “slightly less saccharine memories.” But “That asshole David Kamp came absolutely primed with chipper observations about how Claiborne helped prepare a land of oafs to become a nation of people discerning enough to . . . well, to sit at the feet of the David Kamps.” And people call me bitchy? I would have redacted the offending name to forestall a repeat of an unpleasantness my poor consort had to witness, but unfortunately the brand matters. Somewhere John and Karen Hess are chortling. . . .
Only two Maroons would go to Cuba and complain that the food wasn’t cutting edge. For Che’s sake, can you say embargo? And poor people? But then as a travel writer friend noted, they were clearly just going through the payback motions for the trip. I blame the Food Coven’s honcho for “printing” their drivel; he does seem to take a hands-off approach with his old pals. One just did a trite ode to a “storied gem” of a trattoria that mentions a tart “in the photo above” when all that’s on display is fruit. But at least what he’s not doing is working. I check in just to see the latest brain wreck.
Also file this under “no ho like an old ho”: The new food channel apparently staffed only by founding Food Covenites has an astonishingly revealing post by someone who I hope did not actually get paid to upload her stenographer’s notebook. I’m mean, there’s blogging and then there’s slopping-out. This was just a cheesy bread-and-butter note to an agriturismo packaged as a travel story. Forget sausage. This is how the guidebooks get made.