Open Letter to Bon Appetit Editor, Adam Rapoport

About six weeks ago, I got my issue of Bon Appetit. It was the Italy issue and I was uber excited about it. Then I actually read the issue, and it just irked me so much that I had to write a letter to the newly appointed editor, Adam Rapaport. Of course I never heard back from BA, but I had spend too much time on the letter to let my rant go to waste – I must share it with the world! And maybe – just maybe – Mr. Rapaport will see it sooner or later. So here it is in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Rapoport,

Full disclsoure: I am one of the thousands of Bon Appetit subscribers who received their subscription after Gourmet closed, and continued subscribing because few other magazines on the market seemed as good as BA (and none lived up to Gourmet).

I enjoyed the recipes and stories, although I always found myself going back to old Gourmet recipes. I was looking forward to the much-hyped transformation of the magazine, and eagerly awaited the May issue.

Sadly, I think I may let the subscription run its course and not renew. The only thought looping through my head as I read through the issue was, “Why are they TRYING so hard?” It seems as though the magazine has been taken over by 25-35 year old hipsters, although that is exactly what the magazine would make us believe has not happened. Just the number of references to hipsters, know-it-all foodie friends, and tattooed baristas makes me think that the magazine is now run by hipsters, know-it-all foodie friends, and tattooed former baristas (all fully aware that they are these things, and adamant about denying it).

Perhaps I’m taking it too much to heart because this was the Italy issue. Another full disclosure: I’m married to an Italian and lived in that wonderful country for seven years. This full immersion into the Italian culture and cuisine has made me wary of Americans trying to stamp their “expertise” onto Italian traditions. I would LOVE to meet any Italian who goes through your ludicrous method of making coffee with the moka coffee pot, especially the last step which calls for wrapping a cold, wet towel around the pot “to stop the extraction.” As my husband pointed out, another way to do this is to pour the coffee and drink it. Pretty simple.

Also, for a magazine which seems to extol the authenticity that still permeates Italian cuisine (to quote page 107, “You can get a rich, crema-topped espresso just about anywhere. And it doesn’t come with a lecture from some tattooed, fedora-wearing barista.”), it’s pretty ironic that the “Moka Pot Manual” was written not by an Italian, but a New York City barista, perhaps one with tattoos (or sporting a fedora).

Or even worse: Maybe the irony was intended, fully putting the hipster stench on Bon Appetit forever.

I know this email will never get a response, but I just feel better knowing that I sent it.

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Tonno e cipolla

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Disclaimer: these pizza toppings are NOT fruit of a pregnant woman’s cravings.

I love pizza. I make it (yes, the dough, too) once a week. I have to, so I can keep happy a picky Italian husband who from one day to the next decided he doesn’t like American pizza.

This combination of pizza toppings – tuna and onion – is one of A’s favorites, and found everywhere in northern Italy where he’s from. When we moved to Rome, it was a different story: he didn’t see it on the menu once, asked the waiter if he’d make one for him anyway, the waiter looked like him like he was a martian, then he came back with a pizza with tuna on it and three tiny pieces of onion. Oh no: the thing has to be LOADED with onion (note: the picture was taken before the pizza went into the oven).

Anyway, try it at home! Tell people it’s the Italian version of tuna melt. That line always seems to work.

Dessert Philosophy

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A long time ago I settled on my dessert philosophy (what…doesn’t everyone have one??): if it doesn’t have chocolate in it, it’s totally not worth the calories. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE fruit. But I’d rather eat it fresh, without all the added sugar and dough and whatnot.

So yesterday, I made Chewy Chocolate Cookies from Cook’s Illustrated. They were AMAZING. Highly highly recommended for anyone who loves chocolaty things. I followed the recipe to the letter, but I don’t agree with the ball-shape formation of the cookie as they go in the oven. In my opinion, that didn’t allow them to flatten enough. So next time I make them (and mark my words, there will be a next time!) I’ll flatten them out a bit more between my hands before popping them into the oven.

Dinner Worthy of a 1950s Housewife

Yesterday I was inspired to cook…you know, one of those days that make you want to try a new recipe, knowing that the same old pasta dish won’t fit the bill. I had some steak tips defrosting but didn’t feel like eating Thai beef salad (where the said steak tips generally end up). Looking online for a good beef recipe, I saw this one for Beef Stroganoff and started craving it right away! I made a few changes to the recipe (used marsala instead of sherry because that’s all I had, seared beef before cooking the onions and mushrooms to give the veggies a meatier taste) and it came out really well.

I was telling my sister about my exciting dinner plans, and her reaction was “how old are you?” Apparently, beef stroganoff is somewhat of a throwback to Midwest, old lady dinner. So I ran with it and made tapioca for dessert! Mmmm…tapioca…sexed up a bit with coconut and cocoa…mmmm…A. and E. weren’t complaining, and all I needed was a hoop skirt to make it a picture perfect evening.

Cooking Class

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So last night, for my friend E’s birthday, we went to a cooking class. It was great fun! The teacher’s apartment is beautiful and she has a great setup. We made what was called the “Light Asian Menu” (or something similar) with Vietnamese spring rolls, peanut noodles, salmon and Shitake mushrooms with a sake-based glaze, and a lemongrass-mint sorbet. It was all quite yummy and it was interesting to see someone explain food to a group of people. And the entire time I kept thinking…I want this woman’s job!

One of the girls I was talking to told me that she isn’t too crazy about cooking because her mother was so stressful and precise in the kitchen that the whole experience became a chore. I already feel bad for our little tyke…the girl’s not going to enjoy cooking much, is she?