Posted 14 December 2003 - 03:47 PM
Amanda Hesser has mentioned you as an entertaining, enlightening, and exhausting dinner companion. May I ask your opinion of Ms. Hesser and her choice of topics, her writing style, her choice of dining companions? -- whatever you might care to divulge while remaining the gentleman we know you to be.
Posted 16 December 2003 - 05:12 PM
Amanda herself is a fine and natural writer. Her parents, from central Pennsylvania, wouldn't let her apply to a liberal arts college, and she was compelled to attend one of the Babson business schools, in finance. Nor did this poor, imprisoned soul wake up at dawn every day and write in her journal for several hours. She has a very good palate and often has insights about a dish we've eaten together. She can surely cook, though I've never been given dinner at her house; she and Sam Sifton adapted the recipes in the Times's excellent Thanksgiving roundup. All in all, I'd consider her among the best of the younger food writers.
The most maddening thing about Amanda is that she writes freely and without difficulty. I know only a few people like this, and she's the only one I like. I hate each of the others intensely. I do feel that Amanda should write less often and writes longer pieces involving lots of research, and I've sort of told her so. But unlike me--and largely because she writes so easily--Amanda is not so attached to everything she writes. Doing a few pieces for the Times about subjects that do not deeply fascinate her seem only a minor burden for Amanda. She accepts this as the lot of a newspaper writer. So if you're in the mood to judge Amanda and her work, it's only fair to judge her at her best, which by my standards is pretty good indeed.