M.F.K. Fisher's 'Consider the Oyster' to be republished

It's been 77 years since M.F.K. Fisher's second book, a collection of essays titled Consider the Oyster, was published. Now the work is getting a second life, with a second publication that features a foreword by food writer Felicity Cloake. It's an understatement to say that a lot has happened in the food world since the publication of this book. Is it still relevant in today's culinary atmosphere? Yes, says Ruby Tandoh, writing for the website Vice

Consider the Oyster

Fisher's approach to food writing was a stark contrast to those who came before her, says Tandoh. Not only was her tone and style markedly different "from the politeness of generations of gastronomes before her", Fisher embodied "a kind of food writing in which the presence of food necessarily implies the presence of an eater, and where the story of that eater-their hunger, mouth, tongue, tastes, and body-is placed at the centre of the story."

Tandoh notes that this "gastronomical me" is at once a signature style and a problem to be overcome, according to some writers like Josh Ozersky. He laments Fisher's bourgeoisie slant, comparing her writing to "the endless chatter of some lady you sit next to on a bus." While some of the tendencies embodied by Fisher and her devotees are, fairly, open to criticism, Tandoh feels that there is still much to learn from Fisher's works. "The gastronomical "me" is no longer a monolith," she writes, "but an anchor point: a place in time, space, family, and culture from which we might turn our lens outwards to explore issues of hunger as well as comfort, suffering as well as joy."  

Dorcas Reilly, inventor of the green bean casserole, has died at age 92

Whether you love it or hate it, there's no denying that green bean casserole is a staple at Thanksgiving dinners in the US. If you were curious as to how the dish was invented, wonder no more. We not only know when it was invented, but who created it in the first place. Her name was Dorcas Reilly, and she has just passed away at the age of 92.

green bean casserole

Reilly was a graduate of Drexel University's home economics department and worked in the test kitchens of the Campbell's company in the 1950s. Her team was tasked with making an easy side dish that used two commonplace products, canned green beans and Campbell's iconic cream of mushroom soup. Campbell's added the casserole recipe to the label of its cream of mushroom soup can in the 1960s, which fueled the dish's popularity. 

While the casserole really took off in midwestern states, it appears on tables across the country and many families wouldn't consider it a proper holiday meal without the dish, which is traditionally topped with crispy canned onions. The casserole is forever associated with Campbell's - the company has reported that 40 percent of its cream of mushroom soup is bought specifically to make the casserole. While many food writers and chefs have tried to put a gourmet spin on the dish, a lot of people prefer the traditional version for nostalgia's sake (and, perhaps, because it is so easy to make). 

Photo of Green bean casserole from Serious Eats by Campbell Soup Company

Omnivore Books celebrates ten years

In the last couple of years, we have brought you plenty of bad news about cookbook stores closing down or facing a precarious financial situation. That's why we are excited to share some good news: San Francisco's Omnivore Books is celebrating its tenth anniversary! Eater interviewed owner Celia Sack on how her store has not only survived, but has thrived in the past decade

Omnivore Books

Although she started her store in the depths of the Great Recession, Celia had one advantage in that she had a great deal of experience as a rare books specialist at an auction house in San Francisco. Having such a depth of knowledge about antiquarian books gave her a leg up on the rare cookbook market. 

One comment that Celia made in the article really struck a chord with me, when she compared cookbooks to albums: "My partner gave me a really good talking point: She said, when you get recipes online, it's like putting together a bunch of songs on Pandora that you like. But buying a cookbook, it's like buying an album." Much like an album reveals a lot more about an artist than a single can do, so too does a cookbook provide insights on the author. "It's nice to get to know the author you're working with and their style," says Celia.

Congratulations to Celia and Omnivore Books. Here's to many more successful years! 

Peter Meehan joins the Los Angeles Times

When restaurant critic Jonathan Gold passed away unexpectedly in July, he left a huge void at his company, The Los Angeles Times. While no one can really replace him, the Times is moving forward with new hires to help plug the hole. We recently learned that one of these recruits is Peter Meehan, co-founder of the late Lucky Peach Magazine, cookbook author, and former columnist for the NY Times. 

Lucky Peach magazine

Meehan's title will be Contributing Editor. "Los Angeles is the most exciting eating city in America," he said in the press release announcing his hiring. "Jonathan spent decades teaching us all about it, and how to care about it, and about putting in the work to see it in all its diverse splendor. I am humbled by the opportunity to help the Los Angeles Times build and expand on his mission and the mission of good food writing anywhere: as a way to see and connect with and understand each other."

In a time where most newspaper food columns have shrunk or disappeared altogether, the LA Times is bucking the trend. The paper has said that Meehan will "help guide editorial direction and expansion of The Times' food and dining coverage." The expansion has been in the works for several months, said Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine.

Are you ready to 'Cook Like a Pro'?

Ina Garten has been a go-to resource for cooking advice and recipes for nearly 20 years, ever since the publication of her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa. A string of wildly successful books and a television series followed in short order. Tomorrow marks the debut of the third series of her latest show, 'Cook Like a Pro.' 

Cook Like a Pro

While her first show,  Barefoot Contessa, mainly showed Ina cooking and entertaining in the posh neighborhoods of East Hampton, New York, 'Cook Like a Pro' focused on specific ingredients in its first two seasons. The show is expanding on that theme in the third season, engaging in broader topics throughout its run. One episode is even themed around Mary Poppins - an intriguing concept that also includes special guest stars. 

To coincide with the new season, Ina's latest cookbook is also being released this  Tuesday. Also titled Cook Like a Pro, the book features some of Ina's most irresistible recipes and very best "pro tips," from the secret to making her custardy, slow-cooked Truffled Scrambled Eggs to the key to the crispiest and juiciest Fried Chicken Sandwiches. 

For Ina, cooking like a pro also means hosting like a pro, and the book is replete with ideas to boost your cooking and entertaining skills such as how to set up an elegant home bar. Tune in tomorrow to catch Ina at her best, and don't forget to check the World Calendar of Cookbook Events to see if her current tour is bringing her to your city. 

April Bloomfield tells her side of the story

Since news broke about the sexual assault and rape allegations against Ken Friedman and others at the Spotted Pig in New York, the restaurant's chef and co-owner, April Bloomfield, has not said much about the matter. She says her silence, save from a few lackluster apologies, was held under the advice of her attorneys, who are still negotiating the terms of her separation from the partnership with Friedman. Bloomfield grew tired of waiting to tell her side of the story, and recently sat down with The New York Times to discuss the controversy

April Bloomfield

The chef is speaking out now in an attempt to repair the damage the scandal has caused to her reputation and her career. Bloomfield acknowledges that she made missteps, but says that while she knew about some of Friedman's bad behavior, she was not aware of the more serious allegations. For instance, she denies knowing that the upstairs room of the restaurant was known as "the rape room". 

Bloomfield says that once she became aware of Friedman's volatile temper and poor treatment of employees, she attempted to counsel him about his anger and inappropriate behavior. She says that he would be contrite and promise to change, but never followed through on those promises. Bloomfield didn't push back harder because she felt intimidated by Friedman, who she says once threatened to have her work visa revoked, which would have ended her ability to work in the US. (Friedman denies this story and says that he will also be commenting soon). 

Employees who were contacted about the story seem to be split as to whether they believe Bloomfield's account of the goings on at the Spotted Pig and other restaurants that she ran with Friedman. Some agree that she was intimidated by Friedman and that her actions (or lack thereof) were a survival mechanism. Others think that she knew more about the goings on than she admits, and that she deliberately ignored reports of abuse and harassment. 

Bloomfield says she had been working on a way to extricate herself from her partnership with Friedman for over a year before the scandal broke. Now that the separation is nearing completion, Bloomfield is focusing on running her restaurants with a new partner (a management company), and the harder work of rebuilding relationships with former employees and co-workers. "These women have been hurting and I feel horrified that I've done wrong by them," she told the NYT. "I know I need to hear what happened to them."

An unsung winner works to rebuild her success

If you have ever had dreams about participating in and eventually winning a reality cooking show but never made it past the application stage, you understand disappointment. But your chagrin at not making the grade likely pales in comparison to that of Vallery Lomas. She won a televised cooking competition, but no one was ever allowed to see it.

cookware

Lomas was a contestant on the third season of 'The Great American Baking Show', (the US spinoff of GBBO), when the program was derailed by allegations of sexual misconduct against one of its judges, Johnny Iuzzini. Even though the show had wrapped, ABC cancelled the series after airing only two episodes. 

Naturally, Lomas was crushed by this outcome as her formerly smooth path to culinary success encountered a sudden roadblock. However, the former attorney was not going to quit without a fight. She is still pursuing her dreams and has leveraged the small amount of press she did receive. She presented the Outstanding Baker Award at this year's James Beard ceremony, and has made a handful of TV appearances. Lomas is currently working on a pitch for a TV show and is writing a cookbook - we'll let you know about it as soon as we know the details!

Good Eats: Reloaded heading to Cooking Channel

Alton Brown provided his fans with a bit of good news earlier this week, when he posted a status update about Good Eats to his Facebook page. In it, he announced that he's "revisiting the Good Eats library and renovating some classic episodes by adding new scenes, new science and new recipes." The first revamped episode of what is being called 'Good Eats: Reloaded' premieres on October 15 on Cooking Channel.

Good Eats: Reloaded

The news ends months of speculation follwing a cryptic announcement that Brown was revising his popular show, which aired on Food Network for over a decade. Rumors swirled that Good Eats might be returning as a web series or that the program would be completely reinterpreted. 

In a statment Brown said "Recording artists remaster albums, directors re-cut films, classic buildings are renovated and now, I'm finally getting a chance to update some classic  Good Eats episodes." He had planned on only revisiting about 30% of the episodes, but wound up "doing more…a whole lot more!" he explained. 

Good Eats: Reloaded will tide us over until the release of Brown's new television series, which is slated to air in 2019. Titled Return of the Eats, the half-hour series premieres next year on the Food Network, although no date has yet been announced. 

Nigel Slater reminisces about 'How to Eat'

Some cookbooks age much better than others. After a couple of decades, what's left of the 'unicorn food' books are going to littering vintage shops, with shoppers making snide comments about how silly people were back in the teens. Other volumes, however, have timeless appeal. When you are lucky enough to find a copy in the resale store, it will be well-used, with splatters telling the story of successful dinners and satisfied eaters. 

Nigella Lawson's How to Eat is one such book. Can you believe that it's been 20 years since this magnificent cookbook was released? And who better than Nigel Slater to reminisce about it? He reminds us of how different How to Eat was than almost all of the cookbooks the preceded it, and how it ushered in a new wave of cookery books. 

How to Eat

"It says everything that Delia wrote  How to Cook and Nigella  How to Eat. And that's the difference between this and most other cookbooks. This is about meals rather than recipes," Slater writes. Nigella makes us feel at home in her books, like we are sharing the kitchen with her. And even though it's more than just another collection of recipes, the recipes work. How to Eat is as practical as it is inspirational. It's truly a cookbook for the ages. 

Is Food Network bringing sexy back?

Food Network and People Magazine are teaming up to redefine the phrase "it's so hot in the kitchen". They are set to produce a new one hour special which will bring together ten of "the country's most beautiful and talented male chefs" for a competition to determine who is the sexiest chef alive

cookbook covers

The hour-long program, which will be broadcast on November 1, will be hosted by People's editor-in-chief Jess Cagle. The magazine hasn't released any names for the competition but has said the  nominees won't be culinary superstars but rather "up and coming" chefs.

Many celebrity chefs have landed in People's annual "Sexiest Man Alive" issue, including Curtis Stone, Jamie Oliver, Tom Colicchio, James Briscione,  and Franco Noriega (who started out as an underwear model before turning to cooking). Perhaps we should file this new program under 'it was bound to happen' and/or 'only in the United States'.

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