Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sam Sifton saves Thanksgiving, but hates garlic (and freedom)

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 3:04 PM

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I love the writing of former New York Times food critic Sam Sifton maybe more than is appropriate for a text-based relationship built on a mutual lust for crispy animals, but the man's crazy if he's thinking Thanksgiving should happen sans garlic. There's a lot of offensive-to-the-food-gods things I would spend my Thursday doing — creating cat memes; ordering-in KFC; starting a British boy-band — but I would never skip the garlic.

Jesus, does he also think I'm someone who would glare at a cute kid trying to hand me a plastic phone to answer? Am I monster?

Yet, in an interview with Bloomberg's Laurie Muchnick, regarding his new book Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well, the now-national-editor persists.

Muchnick: So no garlic, huh?

Sifton: Garlic on Thanksgiving is an abomination, and I say that unreservedly. I have no problem with garlic in regular life. But I think putting it into your Thanksgiving is wrong.

I don't even know what those words mean. (And we'll just pretend his next answer having something to do with fermented soy-bean paste didn't happen.)

To be fair, I haven't read a negative word about the work derived from Sifton's time spent manning the paper's holiday hotline. But no garlic? No garlic!? To quote the best character in The Rock, the hairdresser: "I mean, did they tell Picasso 'No brush'?" (Let me just pause for moment to say, NIC CAGE, YA'LL.)

So — like the distance between freedom-loving, fry-eatin' 'Mericans, and those goddam pinko Commies — we'll just call this a difference of opinion, and move on to saying you might want to buy the book in the next 36 hours. After all, The Daily Meal recommends it for "people who are obsessed with perfecting their gravy"; the Washington Post calls it "the culinary equivalent of Strunk and White’s classic writing guide"; and even the snarkers at LA Weekly said the book's "smart, savvy, friendly, and neither condescending nor high-minded."

Need even more convincing? Just standing next to him made Diane Sawyer relax like she hadn't since, oh, election night, I guess. And this phrase in the introduction reassures me that my inclination to panic over the fact my oven is a shoebox trying to cook a basketball is completely unnecessary: "Everything will be all right."

But the real reason you can trust Sifton is this, from his Bloomberg interview: "The recovery process requires stomach stimulation, right? So one thing we can do is take a walk. Much more effective and important, however, is the application of alcohol ..."

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