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A Look Back on the 2016 Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks

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My favorite comment from our Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks, hands down: “I listened to Eye of the Tiger while reading this judgment.” (The rest of you: You still have two days—we’re posting the final judgment tomorrow—to top ariel a.)

This comment was in reference to Phyllis Grant’s record-breaking she-tested-how-many-recipes? decision on The Food Lab vs. Zahav—and I loved it for how perfectly apt it was then. But I also loved it because that song—all full of winner cliches, a stampeding herd of power chords—could easily be the soundtrack for the whole Piglet season. That song, in all of its overwrought glory, is how I feel when I edit; it’s how I feel when each day’s judgment goes up. It’s how I feel the moment before we announce the last known survivor.

Before we do, I wanted to take a quick look back on The 2016 Piglet. What were the upsets? (There were a few.) The highlights? (Plenty.) The books you thought were unfairly disqualified? I’d ask you to tell me your answers in the comments, but I have a feeling you already will.

Here are mine:

  • Brooks Headley kicked off the tournament beautifully—and declared his affinity for glossy food photos. (Really, Brooks?) A number of you—judges, included—went on to decry them. Could this be our next face-off?
  • Co-founder Charlotte Druckman and I made an attempt to elucidate parts of The Piglet we thought might not be registering with certain readers. We tanked.
  • Undeterred, we tried again. We haven’t heard much about how our second attempt went, perhaps because the request I sent my producer to disable all iTunes reviews went through.
  • I met Esther, of Read It & Eat bookstore in Chicago; she was kind enough to share her (very adept) predictions with you, too.
  • It can’t be overstated: Phyllis Grant dropped the mic during her decision. Here is a margin note of mine from her drafts in the weeks before we published, highlighting the line “I am proud to say that my kids and I managed to cook over 20 recipes from each of your books”: You are an animal.
  • Receiving this text from friend (and ace contributor Erin McDowell): “We keep seeing these all over Powell’s and had to show you!” She meant Powell’s Bookstore, in Portland, Oregon, and here’s what she saw:
The Piglet on the West Coast!
The Piglet on the West Coast!
  • That time Julie Klam posited a question almost too real, while referring to flipping back and forth to recipes-within-recipes: What am I, made of bookmarks??
  • Daily text color commentary from Piglet co-founder Charlotte Druckman's mother. Such as: Lovely review today. Near & Far doesn't entice me. You really have good reviewers this year. All have been consistent and diligent except for the one who should have made more recipes but still wrote a good review."
  • Remember when Chris Schonberger compared leading a baking book with “Bloombergian finger-wagging” about sugar to opening the Kama Sutra with a warning about genital warts? Let me remind you.
  • You won’t remember this one, but a personal highlight: My family sending me, mid-Piglet, this scan of a watercolor my grandfather did over 20 years ago. It’s got to be some kind of sign, right?
Grandpa knew. (P.S. Cam is my brother.)
Grandpa knew. (P.S. Cam is my brother.)

We’ll see you back here tomorrow.

Seriously though: Tell us your favorite moments of this year’s tournament!

Tags: The Piglet, Books, Cookbooks