Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Christopher Kimball Is The Bomb

I have to be quick---Ezra Klein is quite wrong about Kimball and his work and the Times Boston Globe article was snotty. I do realize, however, that it is very difficult to understand people who refuse to deal with stupidity and mediocrity when you are the type of person who will defend Megan McArdle. Kimball's magazine is a god-send for people who want to improve their cooking ability through hard work and study, instead of depending on whatever recipes the foodies at the Times and the Atlantic feel are hip this week.

UPDATE: Ezara blegs for information on good chef's knives. If only there were a cooking magazine that tested all kitchen products and obsessively determined which was best!


Ken Houghton said...

I freely admit considering "an unfunny Lake Woebegon" a phrase of pure redundancy, but that's the effect of 25 or 30 years of a "humor" that wears after one or two, let alone five or ten.

But what NYT (London Times? Washington Times?) article? And why would anyone take Ezra seriously on food?

Susan of Texas said...

Klein links to a Boston Globe article on Kimball here, and he also mentions him in his chat. Darn, in my haste I said Times instead of Globe.

Maybe Klein just thinks he's an expert on crazy, because he doesn't seem to understand why Kimball is so successful. Cooking is a series of chemical changes and it's incredibly helpful to know exactly what is happening and why. It's especially necessary in baking--I got a good grade in Chem Lab in college because I learned to measure and mix chemicals while making cakes and cookies.

I like Kimball's essays on life in Vermont at lot, probably because I read and loved the Little House on the Prairie books as a kid. They described how people used to make a home with their own hands and that's fascinating to me. Several of my favorite books have that in common--they find meaning and beauty in daily life and its activities.

Anonymous said...


I think that's what made cooking so much fun for me. It's an experiment every time that you eat in the end. Unfortunately like so many things, you have to develop a core competency. But once you have achieved that, then cooking becomes so much more fun, because there are so many variables to play with.

Finally, cooking usually ends up with something tangible. Maybe not initially, if you're unlucky but later on you actually make something. That is its own reward.


Dr.BDH said...

My wife (professionally trained chef) and I (self-taught hash-slinger) have tried and rejected every cooking magazine except Cook's Illustrated. The article and some of Kimball's employees miss an important aspect of C.I.: in the course of trial and error plus investigation of cooking, say, the "perfect" flank steak, C.I. uncovers the facts about the cooking process that allow us to create our own recipes. Everything I grill now is better because of what I've learned from C.I. My wife's pancakes, which she loads with healthy stuff like flax seed and cottage cheese for our little boys, cook better because of what C.I. has revealed about pancakes. Kimball deserves whatever wealth the magazine has brought him. I hope the publishers of Motorcycle Consumer News (another ad-free, nothing but the facts publication) and The Medical Letter (ditto) are doing as well.

Susan of Texas said...

Hello, SV. Yes, Cook's is great because it explains techniques and the science of cooking and exactly how to achieve your goal. As DrBDH says, that means you will be more successful no matter what you cook.

Roger Ailes said...

Given Ezra's belief that "True Love has never had a more able chronicler" than John Hughes, I can't imagine he'd be able to discern between fine cutlery and a rusty Ginzu.

Judd Apatow and the Farrelly Bros. must be reeling from the slight.

clever pseudonym said...

CI is great because it's not just about cooking. They give you tips on storing, preserving, have great buying guides, etc. A lot of the other magazines just seem to be advert fillers and articles on sexy places to eat in Tuscany, i.e. the kind of thing people like McArdle throw on their coffee tables to appear as though they're a trendy yet sophisticated food snob.

Susan of Texas said...

Heh. Hughes was good at popular wish-fulfillment entertainment, but True Love? That's idiotic. They were adolescent fantasies.

These pundits of ours are in their 30s. It would be nice if they grew up.