Allison Robicelli runs through the highlights of Round 1 so far—click on the judgment photos to read the reviews for yourselves.
Tasting Rome vs. Tasting Persia, judged by Katie Quinn
This is the Piglet’s first ever video review which is exciting! However I couldn’t watch it because I’m in a coffee shop and forgot my headphones, and I don’t want to be “that douche.” My writing may often be uncouth, but I’m a civilized lady, goddamnit.
Tasting Persia moves onto the next round, the commenters are highly positive. That’s right, I’m reviewing you guys. My, my, my….how the tables have turned. I hope those of you who criticized my love of four letter words way back when my book was Piglet-nominated are nervous, because I have waited a Iooooooooong time for this day.
Land of Fish & Rice vs. Dorie’s Cookies, judged by Pavia Rosati
Are there two things in the vast sphere of culinaria more complementary than fish and cookies? We’ve got a contest between Chinese food and dessert, and we know it will be a fair fight because Pavia Rosati states that she is “meh” on cookies and flat-out does not like Chinese food. The commenters hate this, but I hate this more, for different a reason: What sort of deranged lunatic does not like Chinese food?
Let me tell you guys something: Seven months ago I moved from Brooklyn, where I lived between two Chinatowns, to Baltimore where I have yet to even see a Chinese person, and huge chunks of my soul are dying because of this. Solid, authentic Chinese food is possibly more vital than oxygen, and since Rosati points out that she most certainly is familiar with it because she is “a founder of the travel website Fathom” which covers unique international cuisines, I can only assume that this isn’t actually Pavia posting, because no human could possibly be indifferent to the brilliant gastronomy of over 1.5 billion people.
My guess? Pavia Rosati has been hypnotized and forced to write this review against her will by Greenspan’s people. The real story: Dorie Greenspan has an insatiable lust for the Piglet trophy and with it, the souls of every reader of Food52. It’s been a long-established fact that she literally makes the best cookies on the planet, cookies that are, perhaps, too good. Dorie is too nice, too adorable and too beloved as a culinary treasure, which can only mean one thing: She cannot be trusted and is up to no good. Have you ever tried one of her famous World Peace cookies? The name comes from the fact they have the power to induce such insane levels of bliss that if they were shared across the earth (perhaps via a cookbook) humanity would usher in an age of utopia. I now see that this “utopia” she speaks of has always meant a dystopian wasteland where Dorie rules with an iron fist and keeps us in line with Parmesan Galettes—a recipe Rosati bakes and extolls as “pastry heaven.”
Dorie Greenspan goes through to the second round, but not before she inadvertently exposes herself a diabolical Bond Villian in an apron. You guys need to stop commenting on the judgment and go save Pavia Rosati!
Soframiz vs. The Adventures of Fat Rice, judged by Bill Addison
Everyone’s a winner when you get a writer as exceptional as Bill Addison, and he certainly makes the case for both of these books to be champions. There are no losers—Fat Rice only goes through because there needs to be a winner.
Recipe for Cooking vs. Taste & Technique, judged by Gabe Ulla
Gabe Ulla writes that Recipe for Cooking, written by the downstairs chef of Chez Panisse, provides “scenes of a man, his family, and his colleagues living an enviable Berkeley life that doesn’t make you want to punch a wall.” I don’t think there’s ever been a Piglet judge who “gets it” more than Ulla. His comments are very thoughtful and well-written, and make me wonder if perhaps I should try to take my job more seriously. Taste & Technique wins.
Simple vs. Deep Run Roots, judged by Emma Straub
Straub begins her review by mentioning her first two novels—as shameless of a marketing ploy as I ever did see. Can you imagine if I did that with my Piglet-nominated, critically-acclaimed cookbook Robicelli’s: A Love Story, With Cupcakes? It would totally sully the integrity of a book which, according to People magazine, was one of the best cookbooks of 2013. I’ll probably buy her novels, though, because this was a great review, and she mentions that she has a three-year-old and a nine-month-old.
“I’m either cooking with one hand while holding a baby, cooking with two hands while trying to make sure that one baby doesn’t murder the other baby, or cooking after the babies are asleep and I am more than halfway there myself.”
Woman, I have BEEN THERE. Solidarity, my sister. I will buy your novels twice.
Comments are mostly positive, and then none other than Diana Henry herself swoops in and starts replying. That’s right, folks—we Piglet nominees are able to read your comments, and we do (and maybe cry sometimes). Diane happens to be an absolutely wonderful woman and is so helpful with assisting the peanut gallery. Know who didn’t do this? DORIE GREENSPAN.
Koreatown vs. Victuals, judged by Rachel Khong
Matt Rodbard is my boss over at Taste and Ronni Lundy is a friend, so everyone here is wonderful and deserves to win and I have absolutely nothing quirky or borderline-offensive to say. Plus Rachel Khong is perfect and this is probably the best piece of food writing you’ll read this week. Even better, almost all of you commenters were on your best behavior! I’m proud of you guys! Gold stars for everyone!
Samarkand vs. Golden, judged by Dan Saltzstein
One time I met Dan Saltzstein at a party and he told me he was a fan of my writing and I’m still smiling over that a year later. Read this and you’ll see why.
I seriously don’t know why I was asked to review these writers. Perhaps it’s a compare/contrast situation so you can truly appreciate the talent Food52 pulls in for this competition. Or, more likely, it’s the handiwork of Dorie Greenspan who knows I’m onto her and trying to discredit me by holding me up to a certified genius like Dan Saltzstein. Goddamn, this woman is good.
My Two Souths vs. Sirocco, judged by Talia Baiocchi
The flow, the introspection, the delicate observations of this review—this is next-level brilliance. But then I need to go back and reread Rachel Khong’s piece, and it’s so utterly beautiful it makes me audibly sigh more than once. Back to Talia, and I want to bathe in her words. How is it possible that anyone can take two masterpieces and weigh their merits head to head? It’s so hard and there is way too much pressure! I choose this review. Now please go to the comments to let me know how terrible my decisions are.
I’ll be back next week to review the reviews of the quarterfinals. If I’m not, check Dorie Greenspan’s basement.