Also from Byliner, a website that specializes in great reads that can be read in a single sitting. It is a website well worth checking out for those readers who wish to “discover, share, and discuss stories with a community of fellow readers, receive personalized recommendations, and follow their favorite writers — ensuring that they never miss a great read.” The site is new to me, but it looks to be a great place to explore.
“Cooking is like exercise or spending time in nature or good conversation,” Mark Bittman writes in his new Byliner Original, Cooking Solves Everything. “The more you do it, the more you like it, the better you get at it, and the more you recognize that its rewards are far greater than its efforts and that even its efforts are rewards. When you become even marginally good at cooking, you begin to enjoy the process. Even the shopping. Even, sometimes, the cleanup.”
Pleasure, of course, is one of the rewards of good food—and drink, for that matter. In 2010, novelist Jay McInerney traveled to Spain’s Costa Brava to savor one last dinner at El Bulli, Chef Ferran Adrià’s legendary restaurant that closed in July 2011. “I’d been afraid the meal would be too intellectual to be genuinely enjoyable,” McInerney wrote, “but in fact it was a hedonistic revel, a feast more than a mind game, Dionysus and Apollo wrestling on the plate, the senses ultimately triumphing over the brain.”
To complement a meal that extraordinary requires a fine wine, and no critic has done more to influence diners’ palates than Robert Parker. In “The Million-Dollar Nose,” The Atlantic’s William Langewiesche assessed the power of a Parker review. “The effects are felt on store shelves, where retailers display Parker’s comments or scores, and up the supply chain, influencing speculation, negotiation, and price-setting, until even the producers of mass wines feel the weight of Parker’s opinions. The trade has never known such a voice, such a power, before. When it comes to the great wines—those that drive styles and prices for the entire industry—there is hardly another critic now who counts.”
Not that the perfect meal has to be fancy—especially if Mom is doing the cooking. In “The Guiltless Pleasure,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg extolled the wonders of his mother’s mashed potatoes. “Her potatoes were creamy, perfect, with real butter pooling in small lakes. Lumps were for tourists. Skins were for Philistines. These, cliché or not, melted on your tongue, with just a little extra, a lingering taste of … what? I could duplicate everything but that.”
And GQ’s James Beard award-winning food critic, Alan Richman, credits his mother’s cooking with inspiring his career. “Because I grew up eating only my mother’s cooking, I find it unsatisfying to work from recipe books, prepare food devised by people I’ve never met,” Richman recalled in “A Mother’s Knishes.” “I believe I love restaurants so much because I ate in so few of them as a child that they seem the greatest of luxuries. When my mother and father went out for dinner, which wasn’t often, they seldom took my sister and me with them. When they did, my mother never failed to reinforce her dessert credo, which I adhere to even today: ‘You can’t go wrong with ice cream.’”
All articles mentioned above are available at the link.