inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #76 of 125: Lisa Hirsch (sunbear) Wed 1 Aug 07 06:51
    
Both Beebe and Paddleford sound like great characters. A little Googling
shows that Paddleford's papers occupy some 400 boxes in Kansas State
University. There's a photo of her with her plane and a brief bio here 
at the Kansas State Historical Society:

http://www.kshs.org/features/feat1198.htm

You mention above that James Villas called Beebe the campest person he 
ever met. In the book, you noted that Paddleford had a man in every town, 
more or less, or, anyway, was on the prowl in every city she visited. 
There is lots more delicious gossip in the book, especially about the 
California crew (especially about Chez Panisse!). 

How did you turn all of that up?? And how has that aspect of the book
been received?
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #77 of 125: Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Wed 1 Aug 07 06:55
    
Wonderful.  That old-fashioned name, Clementine (plus, I guess,
Paddleford) always made me think of her as, well, not what you
described, nor what Lisa adds.

People from the Bay Area of a certain age will remember that Lucius
Beebe fetched up for a few years at the San Francisco Chronicle with a
column.

That's an interesting observation that most people didn't eat out
except on special occasions until the late 1950s.  That was certainly
the case with my family until my mother went back to work fulltime.  By
then I was in college, out of the house.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #78 of 125: will work for food (rwilmeth) Wed 1 Aug 07 07:47
    
Have you noticed some of the same trends that writers such as Ruhlman have
regarding culinary graduates who never want to be on the line but want to
go into media, food writing, etc.  This past semester, I supervised an
externship for a culinary student who wrote a cookbook.  Her culinary
program -- a good one in our state -- gets credit for their flexibility.
She was the first one.  Good for them -- but I wonder what this will do,
overall, to the quality and amount of food writing in years to come.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #79 of 125: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Wed 1 Aug 07 09:16
    
Checking in with this topic a bit late....just having moved from St.
Louis, flyover central, to Los Angeles, and my taste buds are thrilled
with the change.  Just going back a moment to post 38 or thereabouts
above....

There was excellent food in St. Louis, and not a week goes by that I
do not whine a little because I miss Global Foods so much, and I have
just been rhapsodizing over in the cooking conference about the
wonderful fresh local goat cheese that was so lovely for cooking, but
the good stuff has not penetrated nearly as deeply in everyday dishes
that people bring to potlucks yet.  Still a vast preponderance of
heavy, clodding, faux stuff there.

In my decade there, shopping for good stuff got a lot easier as whole
foods and trader joes and global arrived, but I can actually imagine
eating some of what my new hospital cafeteria makes, and ate fewer than
a dozen meals at the old one, in all those years.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #80 of 125: David Kamp (davidkamp) Wed 1 Aug 07 10:20
    
Renee Wilmeth raises a good point--that some culinary-school graduates
are now not necessarily moving into the kitchen but into other fields
peripherally related to the professional kitchen, like "food media" and
such. I spoke to a group of students at the International Culinary
Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute) and was shocked at how
many of them, even after working with the likes of Jacques Pepin and
Andre Soltner, were looking to get into food TV, food marketing, food
scholarship, food writing, etc. It's a weird new phenomenon.

In one sense, it's gratifying and speaks to one of the theses of my
book--that Americans are at last regarding food as every bit an
important part of our cultural life as art, music, sports, etc.
Culinary studies are becoming an academic discipline in their own
right, outside the more scientific parameters of health and nutrition.
And these bright kids at the ICC have bright futures ahead of them.

The downside is that there are some weenies out there who really just
want stardom--as there are in every field in this age of reality
television. You get young kids who think they're a "Top Chef"
appearance away from getting financing for their first restaurant, or
who harbor a desire to be a TV-food pinup like Padma, Nigella, or
Giada.

Ultimately, the changes to which Ruhlman and Renee allude have
produced two influxes of young people into the food world, one bad and
one good. The bad one is the influx of impatient young 'uns in the
kitchen and in food-media, people with an awful sense of entitlement
and no real sense of hospitality or food-love.

But there's also been a marvelous influx of new talent into the food
work that includes not only young people but middle-aged
career-switchers. These folks are getting into it out of passion. One
chef I know said he's got a much larger talent pool to draw upon than
he did ten, fifteen years ago--there are more people with
restaurant-grade skills than there used to be. And it's, as I said, a
passion, not just a way to make a buck.

This applies not only to kitchen talent, by the way, but also to the
increasing number of youngish people who are taking up small-scale
farming and artisanal-food producing. These fields aren't lucrative,
but they've acquired a newfound respectability--and they're really
fulfilling ways to make a living if you don't care about making a
fortune.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #81 of 125: John Ross (johnross) Wed 1 Aug 07 11:15
    
Was there a direct continuity from Paddleford (and maybe James Beard) to
Calvin Trillin's food pieces in the 1960s New Yorker, where he "revealed"
the existence of great regional food across the country? Seems like he was
just about the first to point out that things like shoo-fly pie bought at
a church festival in Lancaster County, Pa., or crab cakes from a pushcart
vendor in Maryland were "better" eating than the food from a chef who
learned French cooking by watching Dionne Lucas on TV.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #82 of 125: Berliner (captward) Wed 1 Aug 07 11:38
    
And served it at the Casa de la Maison House!
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #83 of 125: Paula Span (pspan) Wed 1 Aug 07 12:35
    
And speaking of the Sterns and Trillin (who did plow some of the same
ground, and so delightfully in both cases), which food writers/critics do
you like now?
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #84 of 125: John Ross (johnross) Wed 1 Aug 07 13:30
    
And come to think about it, what about Dionne Lucas? She was teaching French
cooking techniques on TV more than a decade before Julia Child came along.
Did she have any serious influence (other than teaching my mother how to
make an omlette)?
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #85 of 125: David Kamp (davidkamp) Wed 1 Aug 07 13:55
    
Dione Lucas is another of those relatively unsung people like Michael
Field--an individual who, in her time, was huge, but who has faded from
the collective memory since. She was the first real food-TV
personality. Beard was on TV first, but he was surprisingly bad at it,
while she hung on for a few years; in fact, repeats of her old 1950s
syndicated programs were among the first things broadcast on the
fledgling Food TV Network in 1993. It's also worth noting that, prior
to the publication of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Julia
Child and her collaborator Simca Beck held Lucas in great esteem as the
Great Lady Who Brought French Food to the American People, even before
Julia did.

That said, Lucas was dour and acharismatic, with none of Julia's nutso
charm. She was important in that she laid the groundwork for the
postwar Francophilic boom--as the cookbook author and former Lucas
student Paula Wolfert says, "because *something* was happening"--but
she was more of a table-setter than a major figure.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #86 of 125: David Kamp (davidkamp) Wed 1 Aug 07 14:58
    
I'm compelled to address Lisa's words in post #76, about gossip.
First, I want to clarify that I don't say in the book that Clementine
Paddleford had "a man in every town." I say that Cecily Brownstone, the
veteran food editor for AP, remarked that Paddleford was man-crazy.
And I don't hold Paddleford's man-craziness against her--I just thought
that the (then) nonagenarian Brownstone's remark was revealing and
funny, a nugget of Paddleford knowledge we might not otherwise have
been privy to.

The bigger point is that this book has been both lauded and criticized
for being, in a word, "gossipy." (Check out the Amazon reviews.) Here
are my thoughts on this subject:

1. Who doesn't love a little gossip?

2. I dislike puns about "great dish!"

3. If it's not vainglorious to say so, I think this book is pretty
rigorously researched and thought out. It may be gossipy in the sense
that it acknowledges that its chief figures had certain sexual
proclivities and personal feuds, but it's not gossipy in any pejorative
sense, meaning, it's not shoddy or inaccurate or reliant on false
rumor and innuendo.

3. I'm actually kind of delighted that this book has violated the
etiquette of how food people are written about. I've long recoiled at
the twee, lace-doily treatment of food people in the press and in PBS
pledge drives, which I find patronizing--the idea that chefs, food
journalists, cookbook authors, and the like are jolly, harmless cut-out
figures with no inner lives.

I never thought that any of what I wrote about the personal lives of
Craig Claiborne, James Beard et al was gratuitous. As I said in an
earlier post, I was as surprised as anyone to learn of how readily
figures such as these conflated their sexual appetites with their
gastronomic ones, and how the (then-unglamorous) food world offered
these guys a refuge when they had nowhere else to turn.

In Claiborne's case, particularly, his confusion over his sexuality
played an enormous role in his winding up where he did, as a male
maverick in the then-female-dominated world of newspaper food writing.
Claiborne wrote about this with startling frankness in his own memoir,
"A Feast Made for Laughter," which came out in '82 or '83. His public
didn't want to know about it. The book stiffed, which hastened his
decline into alcoholism.

Yet even in 2007, there are still people who don't want to know. They
find it distasteful that I acknowledge how Claiborne's sexual confusion
and messed-up childhood informed his work; it violates their
Vivaldi-soundtracked image of the food world as a blandly precious
refuge of smiling ladies and gents in striped aprons.

As filth and dirt goes, "The United States of Arugula" is actually
quite tame in comparison to any Kennedy bio, to any portrait of Paris
in the '20s, to any Picasso bio, to any Scott-and-Zelda bio, to any
chronicle of the Rolling Stones or even of Mott the Hoople. The
brilliant book I happen to be reading now, "Fathers and Sons," by
Alexander Waugh, is squirmily disconcerting in the frankness with which
the author, the grandson of Evelyn Waugh and great-nephew of Alec
Waugh, details the sexual proclivities of his relatives, and how these
proclivities impacted their literary output. But he's right to examine
these themes, and I don't for a moment object that he does.

But in the food world, some people still just don't want to know.
Personally, I don't get this need to uphold Beard, Claiborne, Child,
Waters, et al. as sanitized figures. I have lots of respect for all of
them, and I think blind, sanitized hagiography does more to discredit
them than any "gossipy" account of their actual thoughts and behavior
does.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #87 of 125: David Kamp (davidkamp) Wed 1 Aug 07 15:01
    
Item # 3 in the previous post should be labeled item # 4. I may be
"gossipy," but I can usually count.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #88 of 125: It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Wed 1 Aug 07 16:41
    
David-- one thing that we emailed about when I first read the book was 
about the non-appearance of Nero Wolfe as a 1930's foodie/ harbinger of 
foodie culture in the book.

There are at least two occasions where Nero solves a mystery because he 
can tell that something isn't caught or picked fresh (Corn and fish)  

There are multiple times when a good part of the book or story is about 
food, from extolling the virtues of simple American cooking (ribs and 
chitlins, as I recall) or diner pie and a cold glass of milk.  

And there are numerous stories set in a gourmet foodie culture (1930's 
epicurean clubs and the like)

Any plans to add in Nero Wolfe (and his author Rex Stout) into the next 
edition?
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #89 of 125: Lisa Hirsch (sunbear) Thu 2 Aug 07 08:21
    
(Those are great comments, kafclown.)

David, if I didn't make this clear: gossip is a good thing! And what you 
wrote about your subjects' personal lives WAS all germaine to the topic 
at hand.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #90 of 125: David Kamp (davidkamp) Thu 2 Aug 07 12:00
    
Don't worry, Lisa, I more than understood that you liked the "gossipy"
aspects of the book. I just wanted to make a point that the food
world, to some of its enthusiasts, must remain dowdy and inviolate, its
participants incapable of having emotions or intercourse. To these
people, my book is appalling. I guess you can't please everyone, but I
wish that these folks had your understanding that the personal stuff is
very much germaine to the topic.

Adam, I remember your e-mail about Nero Wolfe's foodieness--it was
delightful, and I wish I'd made the connection when I was writing "US
of Arugula." (As it is, my book doesn't get into lit and pop-culture
references too much; I think I mention how people talk about olives in
the novel "The Magnificent Ambersons," and how drinking bottled water
is perceived as a sign of homosexuality in the movie "Heathers.") I
don't know if there will be a "next edition," but the idea of writing
about foodie characters in literature and movies appeals to me.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #91 of 125: Lisa Hirsch (sunbear) Thu 2 Aug 07 12:44
    
those people in "The Age of Innocence" who eat canvasback duck about every
five minutes!
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #92 of 125: Renee Wilmeth (rwilmeth) Thu 2 Aug 07 14:17
    <scribbled by rwilmeth Thu 2 Aug 07 14:19>
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #93 of 125: will work for food (rwilmeth) Thu 2 Aug 07 14:25
    
I think some people in the foodie world will always find the intersections
between life and eating...messy.  They're (and I might have to include
myself here) purists.  It took me a long to time to get comfortable with
Reichl's style in her books -- too much personal information.  But once I
was in, it only made her food writing *more* vivid.  It helped me understand
where she was coming from.

But we'll always have snobs.  The problem with food snobs (like wine snobs,
of which I fight being all the time) is that they don't realize that more
newbies and eaters and amatuers getting involved is what sustains the cratzy
(oops, crazy) growth!  I used to cringe everytime someone arrived for dinner
wtih a bottle of Yellow Tail when I'd carefully picked out and paired all
Alacian whites.  But what I finally realized is that the more people who
keep drinking cheapie Australian and Cali wines (some of which are pretty
darn good) helps the business sustain a huge level of growth.  Which means
some of my favorite winemakers can noodle with some more expensive but also
more fantastic wines they wouldn't be able to make otherwise (or that I
wouldn't be able to afford.)  (And that's Alsacian -- above, typo not a new
wine region.)
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #94 of 125: Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Thu 2 Aug 07 17:27
    
(We guessed about the Alsacian/Alsatian, we guessed!)

David, I wasn't the least offended by any of the personal info in your
book--God knows Jeremiah Tower was far more frank in his
autobiography, and your description of him as being "pansexual" was so
funny I read it aloud to my husband.  I don't want cardboard cutouts
anywhere in life, and it makes perfect sense to me that people who love
food love lots of other things too, including other human beings.

When we eat at the Beard House, we try to get a group of six or eight
together so we can eat in what's known as "the bedroom."  It has a
mirrored ceiling.  Suits me.  I also have a few mirrors where most
people don't. 
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #95 of 125: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 3 Aug 07 06:02
    
(<rwilmeth>, if you're a borderline wine snob, then why the hell
aren't you posting in wine.ind, the conference for wine snobs, wannabe
wine snobs, sometimes-wine snobs, maybe-wine snobs, and their
co-dependents?)
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #96 of 125: will work for food (rwilmeth) Fri 3 Aug 07 06:22
    
Ahh, Steve, I know, I'll add it to my list.  (and I'm so glad all my long-
time WeLL peeps are used to my typos by now.)  I think I wrote up last
weekend's Conferie tasting of white burgundies in chow.ind or cooking or
somewhere.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #97 of 125: David Kamp (davidkamp) Fri 3 Aug 07 06:51
    
Speaking of wine snobs, I have a humor paperback coming out in the
fall called "The Food Snob's Dictionary," part of a continuing series
of cultural-snobbery reference guides I've been doing (with a different
collaborator each time). You can check out www.snobsite.com for more
info on these books.

And I am at work on the fourth Snob book, "The Wine Snob's
Dictionary," as we speak; it will come out in 2008. My co-author is
David Lynch, not the one who directed "Blue Velvet," but the
illustrious one who has been Mario Batali's and Joe Bastianich's wine
director for years at Babbo and their other restaurants. He not only
knows his stuff but has a sharp sense of humor and better writing chops
than any non-full-time writer has any right to.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #98 of 125: Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Fri 3 Aug 07 08:15
    
Looking forward!

So, I had my first Chipotle experience last night, and was it your
book where I read they buy their pork from Niman Ranch?  We wondered
how a basic mom-n-pop ranch (which they are more than now, I know)
could supply a chain of that size.

Verdict: in New Millennium tradition, the food is getting healthier,
the ambient noise will undo any good the healthier food does your body.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #99 of 125: Lisa Hirsch (sunbear) Fri 3 Aug 07 08:27
    
David is probably sleeping off jet-lag, so I will field that one. Niman
Ranch is now a brand, not just a ranch in Marin County. Meat marketed under
the Niman label comes from (generally small) farms that follow the niman
principles.
  
inkwell.vue.304 : David Kamp, "The United States of Arugula"
permalink #100 of 125: Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Fri 3 Aug 07 13:44
    
Thanks, Lisa.
  

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