Bittman ending his "MInimalist" column in the new york times
I a not a fan of his nor of his recipes which tend to veer from minimalist to bland without a backward glance to tasty. I have relocated his "How to Cook Everything" from valuable kitchen real estate to a little-used upstairs bookcase preparatory to donating it to my son's school's used book sale. Bye, bye Bittman!!
I can't say I warmed to Bittman, either.
I already knew how to cook enough things when his first (yellow) book came out, so I didn't buy it until 2009. At that time, I mainly wanted to know more about cooking fish, and other than his main piece of advice -- BUY GOOD FISH -- I found him somewhat lackluster. Perhaps a good quality in a minimalist, but not a very interesting read. I subsequently found I already had enough info in my books by Giuliano, Marcella, and Julia.
I bought a couple of non-stick pans, something I hadn't had in decades, which The Minimalist recommend as the best things in which to fry fish. But he wants you to turn the heat up to a temperature at which the non-stick coating might release toxins, so I kind of abandoned him, his pans, his first cookbook, and his "Fish" cookbook. (In fact, if anyone wants all of these at a not very high price, find my e-mail address on my profile.)
<"One goal has always been to demonstrate that few recipes are dogma; they can all be tweaked. And learning to tweak is part of becoming a cook. (One of the most gratifying comments I get from people who use my recipes is that they’re easy to change.)">
I'm not exactly a Bittman fan either, to me his recipes are hit or miss. However, I have made a few recipes that are quite tasty and continue to please. His savory bread pudding, for one, which I use instead of poultry stuffing/dressing. I've always approached his recipes knowing they need to "tweaked", as he says. That works.
Today's NYT article is an absolute must read for Bittman fans, which I am. The books are too rudimentary and simplified for many of my friends here on the Home Cooking board, but they are still miles ahead of other popular EZ Cooking styles I can think of...but let's not go there. The Minimalist column suggested and popularized many great ways to *be* in the kitchen, even for experienced cooks.
He addresses *robbing recipes of their souls* (or not): "To me the question was not, “Would I cook this as a native would?” but rather, “How would a native cook this if he had my ingredients, my kitchen, my background?” It’s obviously a different dish."
"I’m lazy, I’m rushed, and I’m not all that skillful, and many people share those qualities."
I never thought of it this way before, but I guess he's the sophisticated person's Rachel Ray. (I can't stand RR, but I guess it's the same thing -- quick, delicious, homemade.) The big bonus is, Bittman has displayed a growing consciousness about food politics that I appreciate.
I always liked the Minimalist column and will miss it. I have found some of his books too basic (How to Cook Everything) but I have pulled some great recipes from "Best Recipes in the World." While I only adapted a few recipes from his column into my repertoire, it gave me much inspiration for many of meals.