Moi? Elitist?: The Times Magazine Speaks to the Common Palate



From Yesterday’s NY Times Magazine:

Mark Bittman: “But our [the foodies’] side grew as more people began to care [about good food]. Contrary to what you sometimes hear, it was not an elite group. It was traditional farmers, urban farmers (many in poor neighborhoods), high-school and college students, back-to-the- landers, concerned parents of all classes and, yes, hipsters and intellectuals. Our numbers began to snowball, as more people embraced the importance of good, healthful food in their lives.


Later in the same issue:

What Would You Order For Your Last Supper?

“Maybe one piece of sushi: high-test rice, the very best Hokkaido seaweed, some San Diego uni — in season. Prepared by Jiro Ono, of course. When facing imminent death, eating light is to be advised.”
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, Host of “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations”

“My last meal would be a perfect cheese omelet with a lot of fresh black truffles. There’s almost nothing more satisfying to me than a perfectly cooked omelet, and black truffles are simply my favorite food of all. I find them almost mystical in terms of how powerfully they can elevate a dish.”
ERIC RIPERT, chef and co-owner, Le Bernardin

“My wife Egidiana’s Stoccafisso alla Livornese, which is a baccalà in a tomato-and-peperoncino stew. You have to soak the cod for a couple of days before cooking. It’d be my last meal because you need a week after to air out the house.”
SIRIO MACCIONI, owner, Le Cirque

“For my last meal, I would want Bordier butter and good bread. Then I would want a dinner made by Pascal Barbot, followed by a shellfish extravaganza of blue crabs and crawfish.”
DAVID CHANG, chef and owner, Momofuku

“A pile of Santa Barbara sea urchins, with lemon. A perfect egg. A loaf of crusty bread with cold, sweet butter. One ripe peach, still warm from the sun.”
RUTH REICHL, author; editorial advisor, Gilt Taste

“I would have a Last Chance peach … in late August or September.”
ALICE WATERS, chef and co-owner, Chez Panisse

“David Chang’s pork buns with ’09 Perret Condrieu Chery; Eric Ripert’s tuna and foie gras baguette with ’62 La Tache; Daniel Boulud’s pressed duck with ’61 Chateau Latour; Meredith Kurtzman’s olive-oil gelato with ’67 Chateau d’Yquem.”
JAY MCINERNEY, author and wine critic

“First course: nasturtium appetizer at Noma. Second course: toro tasting at Sasabune. Third course: a plate of jamon and anchovy peppers from La Cepa in San Sebastián. Fourth course: braised stinco from Ardigna in Sicily. Fifth course: orange tart made by Philippe Urraca, Gimont, France, and a slice of mom’s apple pie.”
FRANK FALCINELLI, chef and co-owner, Frankies 570 Spuntino

“I would want my last meal to be something very French. I would ask for a rare filet mignon with seared foie gras and black truffles. It is a very old- fashioned, very traditional French dish that is very rich and popular in the winter. It’s just incredible. If I have to pick a last meal, this would be it. I have had it many times, and it would be the perfect, final au revoir.”
FRANÇOIS PAYARD, pastry chef and owner, Payard

“One piece of every single kind of shellfish and crustacean known to man cooked à la plancha by Ferran Adriá, Eric Ripert, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Enrico Cerea, Massimo Bottura, Mark Ladner, José Andrés and Carme Ruscalleda, each making one in alphabetical order and then back to the start, to be paired with a glass of every single great white wine made in the Le Montrachet appellation of Bourgogne, France, in the last 30 years. And if we have to wait till we find each of the shellfish? Well, then we will have to wait.”
MARIO BATALI, chef, author, restauranteur

“A piece of bluefin tuna sashimi, some Argentinian beef, chocolate from Bernachon in Lyon, half a dozen local oysters and clams. A P.B.R. in a can (for the clams and oysters), white and red burgundy wine with everything else.”
DAVE PASTERNACK, chef and co-owner, Esca

“Cheeseburger with a fried egg. My wife’s homemade chocolate- chip cookies. Copious amounts of red wine. Enjoyed in the company of family and friends and accompanied by the Grateful Dead played very loud.”

WYLIE DUFRESNE, chef and co-owner, WD-50

“New England clam chowder from the Seafood Shoppe in Wainscott, N.Y.; foie gras with toast from La Grenouille; Nate ‘n Al’s hot dog; strip steak from SW Steakhouse; duck from the Four Seasons; fried chicken from The Dutch; corn on the cob, hearts of lettuce with Roquefort, onion rings, Bubby’s cherry pie, the unbelievable grapefruit dessert from Boulud Sud.”


My last meal will be a romantic one. I will be dining with Sam Sifton in The New York Times cafeteria. I will arrive in my finest Thom Browne suit, carrying a picnic basket with two baked potatoes and a delicious white truffle from Alba. Or if it’s not truffle season, I will bring Sevruga caviar from Russia! We will listen to the Gypsy Kings and fill two Champagne flutes with Dom Pérignon Rosé 1996. Because I have always lived and died by the word of The New York Times’s restaurant critic, I want him there as I go.”
JULIAN NICCOLINI, co-owner and majordomo, The Four Seasons Restaurant

Fare for the masses! These run-of -the -mill food craving are enjoined in the same issue by such common-man concerns as:

What’s the Best Novel About Food?

What’s the Best Movie Ever Made About Food?

What Was the First Food Photograph Ever Taken?

and, the one every traditional farmer has just been dying to know:

What’s the Best Work of Art About Food?

So, yeah, nothing elitist here. Cheers to the common palate, and food writing in America today.


About James McWilliams
I'm a historian and writer based in Austin, Texas. This blog is dedicated to exploring the ethics of eating animals and animal-based products.

2 Responses to Moi? Elitist?: The Times Magazine Speaks to the Common Palate

  1. Debra says:

    I’m struck by the fact that Alice Waters is the only one who didn’t talk about eating some kind of meat or fish. That disturbs me.

  2. Lisa Viger says:

    Hmm, looks like someone was dining on tongue-in-cheek.

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