bittman, or is just me?

Didn't you like this Guy better before he went all preachy vegetarian?,

  • Posted by: pierino
  • August 8, 2011


drbabs September 25, 2011

I wonder if he's still preaching to the choir here. But if he can use his influence to get people to start cooking instead of driving through, I think that would be a good thing.
seabirdskitchen August 15, 2011
I am enjoying his minimalist series. He has some irritating quirks, but I like the simplicity.
TXDjinn August 15, 2011
I find Bittman annoying period - regardless of what culinary phase he was going through.
ChefJune August 10, 2011
It's not just you. Course, I didn't like him all that much from the git-go. My reasons have all been very well articulated by my fellow picklers.
ellenl August 10, 2011
It's you.
boulangere August 9, 2011
Pierino, this is really a very thoughtful question, and people obviously have deep feelings about it. I ruminated today on what it really is that annoys me about people like Bittman and Batali. I realized that it's that none of this is news. The subject, its many, many facets, its big-picture implications - they've been much in print and in discussion for a while now. The late-comers, and they are late-comers, almost have an "I invented the internet" zeal. I heard Batali speak in Seattle on a book tour for Easy Italian Cooking. Now maybe it was a rough flight in, or his crocs were on the wrong feet, but I can't say he even tried to amp up his supposed embrace of the vegetable. Tepid, the only word for it. I could practically imagine him muttering "sucker" to himself as he signed each book. I hadn't bought one, by the way - literally just happened to be there. It felt as though he'd been pushed up against a wall by his publisher and told to squeeze out something "timely." As for Bittman, yes, I understand about the change to his diet and all that, but again, it's just not news. Especially, I suspect to Bittman's readers. The gospel of eat less, eat better, move more is by now gospel to many. They're preaching to the converted. Those with dollars to spare for their latest books.
SKK August 9, 2011
What else I love that the article Sam1148 posted says:
"Small farmers such as Gibson say they just want a level playing field, which means either shifting government subsidies to small, sustainable farms or cutting them to big agriculture—or both.

But such reforms are not realistic in the short term. Congress, currently obsessed by deficit reduction, lacks the gumption even to make what should be commonsense changes, such as stopping payments to farmers who earn more than $250,000 a year. Can anyone imagine a deal to subsidize fruits and vegetables instead of powerful corn and soy? "

Sam1148 August 9, 2011
This is an interesting read.

"...Without progress on these fronts, food revolutionaries will not have reformed the food system, but created two tiers: one for the privileged and one for everyone else. And that's not much of a revolution."


Voted the Best Reply!

SKK August 9, 2011
In a nutshell, Bittman's philosophy is that we can improve our health and help save the planet by changing the way we eat: focus on eating more plants and fewer animal products and processed foods. He has a platform that reaches people and he has made a choice to do so. I respect that.

Have had the opportunity to study the problems in our food chain and anyone who has the courage to point them out has my respect from Marion Nestle to Tom Philpott on. And anyone who has the courage to confront this condition of big-ag prevailing - BRAVO!

Just ran across another statistic today that repeated what I have known in a new way: "only four corporations process 84% of the beef raised in the United States. Smithfield Foods alone slaughters 100,000 pigs every day. The effects of this concentration are widespread and result in the mistreatment of the animals, workers, farmers, the land, and the consumers."

The food laws are all made for commercial operations, which makes it very difficult to grow, raise or butcher locally.

And I won't even get started on the 36,000,000 million ground turkey recall!

I have a lot of opinions about a lot of recipes and cheers to anyone who is also adressing underlying causes of our poor public health.

ejm August 9, 2011
Ahhh, this is difficult water to tread..... He is right that there are many very serious problems with our global food production and delivery system, the more you learn the more frightening it is. There are days that it seems to me that we are tipping in slow motion over the brink into disaster.....

That said, I think he is in the midst of converting his image and role. At times his reinvention (evolution?) is struggling to find its voice. I recently really had trouble with the way he used the Cauliflower in Kraft Mac & Cheese as a way to take, what I thought, was a bit of a cheap shot at them. It could have been a good opportunity to talk about incremental change and improvement, and encourage more companies to do it as well as building support for people to make their own when possible. "Make your own, it's easy!" was his message but delivered in a way that cut down a small step by a big company delivering a mass produced product to the masses (not a bad thing they did).

He does get a little heavy handed but on the whole I would say that his work is commendable and for the most part delivers the message to people that cooking from scratch is fun and relatively easy and now he is adding that it is also good for you and telling us why. Learning the details about our diets and their impact on the earth, as well as the significant problems in our food chain is a scary thing, not generally compatible with our joy in cooking good food - but it does not mean it is not happening.

The whole set of questions of how to continue bringing the issues he raised front and center is vexing but one that is of growing urgency and importance. I think he feels internal pressure to use his public forum to that end, which overall should probably be commended and we should stay with him while he fully finds his stride.

Sorry for going on and on but feel somewhat passionate about these questions ;-)
pierino August 9, 2011
HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING is certainly Bittman's finest work. And columns used to be interesting too. It's just this new born again persona. I completely understand why he felt he needed to change his diet but that's his own business. Frank Bruni gave up his job as NYT food critic because he needed to reform but he didn't go all evangelical.
Speaking to Sam's point, I'm fortunate to live in a region that produces top notch vegetables and greens as well as beef, lamb and pork. For what it's worth Bittman's minimalist sauces in this past Sunday's Times sounded really good. Of course the cover story was Danny Meyer's hamburgers.
CarlaCooks August 9, 2011
I have to be honest: while I like Bittman's personality (I always enjoyed watching his weekly videos on NYTimes), I haven't had many good meals using his recipes. I own How To Cook Everything, and the several recipes I've tried from the cookbook have been bland and uninspiring. Once I've cooked several bad recipes from a cookbook, I'm hard-pressed to re-open the book.
Anitalectric August 9, 2011
I think what he is trying to do is offer a new perspective for people, and more options, not less. And he is doing it based on drastic changes in people's health and the environmental impact of our food production.

"Scientific breeding for high protein" doesn't sound very delicious to me so I'll stick to the smaller farming operations and get protein from a varied amount of lower protein sources, which is easier for me to digest and tastes better, too, since they are manufactured for taste and not scale.

I wholeheartedly agree about the tomatoes, Sam1148. Check out the following story. I have not bought one industrialized tomato since-- and there are so many great local varieties of tomatoes around here (and now the Greenmarket takes food stamps so it is possible to feed more people) it has not been an issue.
Sam1148 August 8, 2011
I also take issue with the idea that complete vegan is sustainable and more 'informed' on a global scale. To feed the entire globe, single family farms won't work for massive populations. (I'm talking global scale here). To do that you need massive farms and lots of scientific breeding for high protein and nutrient foods..including using by products to feed live stocks.

Is it really planet friendly to have a truck drive into NYC to bring you a tomato grown in Florida? Or would the same truck deliver more nutrition/pound bringing you a steak?
Sam1148 August 8, 2011
I liked the 70's style vegetarians. For example the moosewood cookbook in it's first printing used some meat dishes. Fish and chicken..etc.
The older school Macrobiotic cookbooks used small amounts of meats, fish in their recipes. It was all a philosophy of balance.
boulangere August 8, 2011
True, but he was a very late comer, and I find his convictions, well, tepid. Don't get me wrong, I love vegetables and vegetarians alike. But I can get enough of chefs thinking they need to be on one bandwagon or another for reasons of marketing themselves, not making good food, whatever it is.
pierino August 8, 2011
Batali's approach to vegetables is interesting in that he does them the Italian way where to use his term they get "hammered ".
Anitalectric August 8, 2011
I don't think of it as preachy, just more informed.
boulangere August 8, 2011
Yes, and I'd say the same about Batali whose embrace of the vegetable is at best tepid.
Panfusine August 8, 2011
well.. his conversion to vegetarianism isn't really earning him extra brownie points from this grass eater!
SKK August 8, 2011
Yes, Pierino, it is just you. You are correct.
IlovePhilly August 8, 2011
Nope, still love him! Is this really a question, though?
inpatskitchen August 8, 2011
I agree with you pierino...he used to be almost a regular guy
plevee August 8, 2011
Yes. And his cookery books too.
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