When it comes to well-varnished stupidity, it would be hard to top the latest description of Alice Waters as “the mother of American cooking.” For Amelia Simmons’s sake, she wouldn’t even qualify as the midwife of California cuisine! Squanto as the father would certainly make sense, given his early-on insistence on local, seasonal, sustainable. But a woman who is younger than both DDT and converted rice hardly fits the aphorism at hand — on the long arm of food in this country, she would be the mood ring at best. You could actually make a better case for Betty Crocker and the corporate horse she rode in on. But the idiocy that really sent me to the Google to trace this nonsense back is the bigger offense, representing as it does the weird mix of toadying and objectivity on display in so much food journalism. The formula: Coin a pandering phrase, then repeat your own slobbery words endlessly without attribution. It all reminds me of that graffiti guy who was everywhere in NYC in the Eighties; his tag was always something like “I am the greatest artist.” But at least he didn’t expect lifetime access to the table of the saints.
One of my favorite Gary Larson cartoons is of a stupid dog dashing across multiple lanes of traffic while a pack waiting on the other side cheers, “Yay, Rusty’s in the club!” I thought of it when I saw that my biggest fan has officially joined the food coven. Rule No. 1, of course, is that members must be sweet to others’ faces and trash them royally behind their backs. No wonder Mr. Tough Guy shriveled in the water.
As for the golden shower, my first reaction was that joke we heard long ago in Trinidad (anyone calls you an asshole, just respond: “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Toilet Paper”). But there could be worse unpleasantness — I could have gotten a Food Network gig. And I think second prize is two gigs.
I love it when carefully arranged PR campaigns go gloriously bad. This should have been such a happy time for a couple down in the Beresford, him with his new movie coming out, her with her cookbook soaring to the top of the best-seller list on a blast of Oprah. Then someone had to go and ruin it all by pointing out similarities in another yummy mummy how-to. Even Martha Stewart, who went through the same hazing at least 25 years ago, probably couldn’t judge what the truth is, but it’s worth noting that the author herself was essentially stolen from her first husband. And it’s scary to think not one but two women actually came up with the idea of raising little Chimps by teaching them deception is good from a very young age. Now one YM has learned the hazards of venturing into the viper pit of publishing without an agent and the other has had a lesson in the nastiness of the food world. Would Oprah have her back for a different kind of flogging?
I can’t reveal the identities or the publications, but I had an exchange recently that keeps making me laugh. I had said a poor editor was “saddled with some pretty lame old mares,” and the person I was talking to responded, “Oh, he could get rid of [insert big male name here] if he really wanted to.” Funny. I thought my consort was the only one who took that guy for a gelding.