Michael Bittman and Ruth Reichl’s food fantasies

by Karen Topakian

Last night while many people were watching the Giants win the first game of the World Series, I was sitting in a comfy aisle seat at the Herbst Theater listening to Ruth Reichl and Michael Bittman. Two notable and quotable authors talked with Steven Winn about cooking, restaurants, food and food policy.

Here are a few of their thoughts.

Bittman: Many claim they’re too busy to cook while watching others cook on TV.

Reichl: At Gourmet, we struggled with it all the time (recording the actual recipe cooking time). How honest should we be?

Reichl: The first place you can show off your wealth (as an immigrant) is with food.

Bittman: Americans kills 10 billion animals a year.

Reichl: I am not a huge eater. I taste things. I eat slowly. (In response to the question about how she stayed so thin as a restaurant critic.)

Reichl: As a restaurant critic you become a mindful eater.

Reichl: If I could do two things in America (to stop obesity), I’d get rid of sodas and have everyone cook from scratch.

Bittman: My newest fantasy: develop a civilian cooking corps (CCC) of people who would cook for those who couldn’t or didn’t have time.

Reichl: We will start community kitchens recreating extended families. (In response to the question about her fantasy.)

Reichl: The history of American cuisine is the history of immigration.

Any thoughts? Responses? Ideas? Conclusions? Feel free to speak up.

And the photo is mine. From our recent trip to Greece.


  1. Lovely quotes. Lovely salad from Greece. Sounds like an interesting evening.

  2. I LOVE Mark Bittman and heard this. I did hear the person in the audience who got up to say that he doesn’t like to cook, and Bittman suggested he should be eating in Asian restaurants. In fact, that guy did stump them. I also thought Asian restaurants these days tend to use a lot of salt and sugar – in fact, while we’re on the subject, I’ve noticed with annoyance that there are more and more sweet sauces in Asian restaurants!

    I also recommend, if you’re interested in food and health, this article in NY Times about candy!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/27/dining/27candy.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=style In short, the author questions the demonization of candy – noting that people studiously avoid eating candy, but happily eat chocolate chip energy bars, and that Gatorade has as much sugar as a dozen candy corns.

  3. OOps. Just saw this original post after leaving comment on FB link. Interesting site. I’ll copy “comment” here.
    Nice, Karen! Thanks. For fun, you might enjoy http://mcconahayglobewatch.blogspot.com/
    Scroll down 3-4 posts to “It’s the Sauce.”
    PS: You’ve got guts admitting you were somewhere else that night!

  4. Linda Cameron says:

    We learned how to eat and (hopefully) cook while living in a NICE Armenian home. What grandparent could not get you hooked on the subject. Oh, excuse me, I need to go make my Kufta now.

    Linda Yessian Cameron

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