Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

TDG: Introducing The Chocolate Curmudgeon


Fat Guy
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ronfland is right on...some people write for effect, will say anything to get noticed. I read a bunch of Regina's website and found that she made me laugh about as often as she offended me. If I was in the habit of reading her, I would stop if the offences outnumbered the laughs. (If she is, as I seem to recall, the columnist who admitted to subscribing to Taste of Home she deserves some credit for bravery.)

Steve Klc, I think your Shakespearean quote should be "Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much." Like Retired Chef, I have noticed a sharp edge to some of your comments. Also, I took offence to your remarks about his age...very close to dismissing his opinion because he is old/old fashioned. He could have been 40 and retired for all you knew. Or he could have been Julia Child!

As for Bourdain, I hated his first book so much I threw it in the waste basket. I was expecting a "food" book and got "who did what to the bride over the trash can in the alley" instead. After seeing him on television and finding him appealing, however, I bought his second book. (Haven't read it yet.)

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"gratuitously bitchy", "bitching and moaning"--Would Mr. Klc use such phrases in commenting on a male food writer?

Yes. He describes me as this way all the time.

Ahem. Excuse me, Jason. When did you become a food writer?

Well, I am, on this web site. :laugh: Haven't you read my Spanish Brandy peice on TDG?

I'm a published TECHNOLOGY writer though. On real paper, and everything. It pays a little bit better than food writing. Marginally enough for me to contribute for paying the bills for this place, so you can read the missives of REAL food writers. :raz:

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ronfland: you make some very good points, but i'm not wasting my time "moralizing." note that I'm not a newbie. it may be that part of the objection to this piece is a feeling that there's a capricious system for determining who can bash whom and where and when. stick around and you'll see what i mean.

i feel very strongly about the need for a writer to know his audience. i felt insulted by the tone of that piece, as did others, it would seem. when we say that, we mean it.

klc, i don't expect the "seriousness" of the nation here. that wasn't my point. i said that i expected arguments that focus on issues, not arguments tha resort to ad hominem attacks. there's a difference. you can be edgy and biting, humorous, provocative, all while staying focused on issues. reading your piece, and then the comments of other site administrators which followed--i felt like i'd walked into the eight grade boys' locker room after PE. nothing you have ever written here before--that i've read--and i have read many of your posts with interest and true gratitude for your knowledge and insight--has made me feel that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i  feel very strongly about the need for a writer to know his audience.  i felt insulted by the tone of that piece, as did others, it would seem.  when we say that, we mean it. 

klc, i don't expect the "seriousness" of the nation here.  that wasn't my point.  i said that i expected arguments that focus on issues, not arguments tha resort to ad hominem attacks.  there's a difference.  you can be edgy and biting, humorous, provocative, all while staying focused on issues.  reading your piece, and then the comments of other site administrators which followed--i felt like i'd walked into the eight grade boys' locker room after PE.  nothing you have ever written here before--that i've read--and i have read many of your posts with interest and true gratitude for your knowledge and insight--has made me feel that way.

What Stella said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote Stephany B: "Didn't she occupy a position any one of the blue and red people here would give their eyeteeth for?"

I think that this is a key issue that Steve is trying to point out. It IS a very powerful and influential position. There are obviously alot of people here who WOULD love such a position, and who would probably be really good in it. I think that Steve is trying to say - in his own incredibly cranky way - is that many of the people here are eminently more qualified, and would treat such a position with greater respect if it were theirs. That anyone who cared about what they were doing would not use their position and power so snippily. That someone in that position might actually benefit from liking food and chefs.

I think part of the cranky tone of the article is also generated by Schrambling herself in the lengthy quotes Steve uses. Not ALL the grumpy crank stuff is his.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find Steve Klc's article to be shrill, a little thin, and not up to his usual standards of generosity and ebullience. But the Steves have provided what I think is ample additional evidence (I only wish it had been in the original article) that Schrambling is too big for her britches. I had never read her before, so I used the links, and came to this conclusion: Steve Klc missed the point.

The question for me is: how does she flourish in a job that lets her write on almost any subject, with no apparent editorial interference, and with a knack for thematic development that has all the traction of a crack-crazed skateboarder on a greasy half-pipe?

She can string words together pretty well, and frankly, she's more entertaining when she bites. But from one paragraph to the next, she reverses field -- you have to sprint 50 breathless yards to catch up to her point. Food writing at this level is a lot about personality; after three or four of Schrambling's columns, I worry that she suffers from severe bipolarity. She has serious flaws as a writer. So how does she keep finding work? Who decides she's worth publishing? How do they decide to keep her on despite her flaws?

Egullet has a half-dozen folks who can write better than she can, but none of them is working at the NYT or the LAT. Why is that? Moreover, the same could be said for a number of other writers, most of them male. I like, even admire, Steingarten, for instance. But give Shaw or mamster his budget (or, to open the field, give Trillin all that cash) and I think you'd get a better column in Vogue every month.

Edited by Dave the Cook (log)

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It comes off looking vindictive only if you aren't willing to read and follow like Suzanne and engage on the merits g.  Come back with your reading of what's been linked to or discussed and engage on how you feel this has been misread.  I look forward to it.

Why exactly should I do your research for you? It's you that wants to prove Schrambling is a terrible writer. I have no opinion on the matter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If, as previously stated elsewhere, we want TDG to be an edgy sort of place where things can be said that others elsewhere might not have the nerve to say, then I believe we also have to be realistic about bracing ourselves for the "how DARE you!?!?!" effect that follows when miscellaneous readers feel their toes have been stomped (whether or not they actually were).

(Damn, that's a long sentence. Sorry about that.)

I enjoyed the article's bitchitude -- if that isn't a legal English word, it should be! -- before I even got to the question of whether I agreed with Chef Klc's scathing assessment of Schrambling's capacity to report and write. I've reread the articles he discussed, and it turns out that I do; I do editing and proofreading for my bread and butter in the real world, and it cheeses me off something awful when somebody who 'knows better' (as anyone hired by the NYT should, IMHO) doesn't DO better.

We have enough lawyers and former lawyers hanging out around here to keep us from publishing anything that is actually actionable in law (my lawyer looked at the article over my shoulder a night or so ago, and she says Steve isn't liable for his expression of his opinion, nor is eGullet for publishing it -- no libel, no slander, by the legal definitions of such.).

Scathing speech, as we all know, can reflect on truth as surely as gentler speech can -- and it can be just as elegant, too. We've made the conscious decision to welcome it here, and I for one think it's a good move.

Rant on, Steve!

:wink:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because she's good for business. Why do you think eGullet chooses the writers they choose? They percieve they are good for business.

What tool is used to determine whether or not a food writer is good or bad for business?

Serious question.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent point Dave. Lesley beat me to it.

Dave and Lady T--I promise to give you some more generosity and ebullience down the road but reserve the right to rant, seemingly less shrill next time. Your observation provides a nice coda to what someone said was a 900 word piece, and reaches even farther than I was prepared to go within that limit: "how does she flourish in a job that lets her write on almost any subject, with no apparent editorial interference, and with a knack for thematic development that has all the traction of a crack-crazed skateboarder on a greasy half-pipe?"

Well, I think the schematic I drew from her last year at the NY Times to freelance to blog doesn't exactly indicate flourish and that's part of the point. It indicates that we eGulleteers were on to something all along--we noticed agenda creep, we noticed hostility toward certain subject matter while at the Times and carryover bitterness in her own words on her website. That roadmap is laid out for anyone who'd like to follow it.

But thank you for reading along and following the leads and saying there's even more here than meets the eye at first blush. Would that others see fit to do the same. That's a necessary part of this exercise.

Stella--the thing is--this isn't a post. Don't confuse the two. You don't see "arguments" that focus on issues? Seems Dave doesn't have a problem focusing on issues--he thinks I missed an ultimately even greater point but then that's what opinion pieces are wont to do--and why people who care discuss them and see where they lead.

Others are held up with tone--that there wouldn't seem to be an appreciable difference. Damn right, but then I wasn't ever the #2 person at the Times food section. You either accept that this position should come with a higher level of responsibility as the nation's paper of record and a higher level of scrutiny or you don't. If you don't, I'm afraid I can't help you.

Steve P chimes in with "yes, it is Schrambling's fault. Is that what you are saying? She caused this?"

Finally, clarity. Thank you Steve.

It's her words, her slant. Follow where I've led you--make up your own minds and see if you start to see a pattern--especially post 9/11 and especially with restaurants/chefs/chef cookbooks--that's where I felt the unnecessarily negative and the creep of hostility toward her subjects comes into play.

(And actually, since no one else has done it yet, I found that even more troubling because her work right after 9/11 was some of the most endearing and heartfelt around--see if you can track down "As a City Craves Normalcy, Restaurants Seem to Be a Start" and ""When the path to serenity wends past the stove" from September: "The food is not really the thing. It’s the making of it that gets you through a bad time…cooking lets you cede control…there’s a reason they call it following a recipe.  Sometimes it just feels calming to know a cake needs exactly one teaspoon of salt and no less than half a pound of butter …whoever said cooking should be entered into with abandon or not at all had it wrong.  Going into it when you have no hope is sometimes just what you need to get to a better place.  Long before there were antidepressants, there was stew." That's just good stuff.)

(edit--spelling, spacing and capitalized Steve's p)

Edited by Steve Klc (log)

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve Klc missed the point.

Dave, thanks for focusing on an issue I wish -- in retrospect -- Steve K had discussed. I also wish I, as the primary editor on the piece, had thought to suggest it. I would correct your statement to read "Steve Klc missed a point" or points but I agree with your substantive argument if not the conclusion you reach that this is missing the point. The thing is, Dave, that's what the follow-up discussion on a thread like this brings out. Where else can you go where the author will engage the readers in this manner? It's unprecedented in the media. Our authors stick around, they follow up, new ideas develop. The thread becomes an outgrowth of the article and they make one another stronger. Thanks for contributing to that process, which we think makes us a far more valuable media resource than the typical one-way print publication or the typical Web publication that models itself on print while ignoring the capabilities of new media.

That's part of what I find hilarious about anyone saying this is "bad for business." This type of discussion is positively great for "business." Here we are like 100 posts and 1500 views into this thing and the thread is still powering along. That's great response in any system of accounting -- not even Bourdain draws like that. Even a proclaimed non-Webzine reader is here on this thread, reading the article and participating, and saying it's bad for business! I'm laughing all the way to the pretend bank, where I plan to make a hefty deposit of irony.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's part of what I find hilarious about anyone saying this is "bad for business." This type of discussion is positively great for "business." Here we are like 100 posts and 1500 views into this thing and the thread is still powering along. That's great response in any system of accounting -- not even Bourdain draws like that. Even a proclaimed non-Webzine reader is here on this thread, reading the article and participating, and saying it's bad for business! I'm laughing all the way to the pretend bank, where I plan to make a hefty deposit of irony.

Steven, I think you're missing a point -- for a number of members, this thread (and the article it refers to) might be considered negative business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's part of what I find hilarious about anyone saying this is "bad for business." This type of discussion is positively great for "business." Here we are like 100 posts and 1500 views into this thing and the thread is still powering along. That's great response in any system of accounting -- not even Bourdain draws like that. Even a proclaimed non-Webzine reader is here on this thread, reading the article and participating, and saying it's bad for business! I'm laughing all the way to the pretend bank, where I plan to make a hefty deposit of irony.

Are you saying all publicity is good Fat Guy?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And if Valerie ever cared about my opinion or asked for my help in picking her desserts up a notch, I'd be over there in a second. It's really nothing personal.

This made me laugh out loud. It obviously is personal, and you obviously missed my point.

Mr. Klc, you are entitled to your opinions and as far as I'm concerned you have every right to say what you feel in public and in private. After all, this is America, and I will (and have) defend your right to say it. I only wish that instead of being self-serving and defensive you were more about the food and the love of cooking. Try to appreciate the different styles and efforts. I would no more choose a Texas sheet cake or a chess pie as my wedding cake than I would take one of your beautifully decorated cakes to a picnic.

It is just bad form for one chef to bash another chef (especially when defending another chef), much in the same way it would be bad form for Tom Sietsema to open his own restaurant and maintain his current job.

Everyone in this business has had to endure his or her share of bad press and wrongful comments at one time or another. It's part of the game.

Let's all put bad reviews and hurtful comments aside. Let's instead learn from others successes and failures, find shortcuts, share stories. What do you say?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, it was the point for me, but I agree there were other considerations. It's just that they were subsidiary to the question of why she has a platform.

As a TDG contributor, I also have to agree that the follow-up is often the best part, and I am always tempted to leave a bit out of the final edit, so there will be a few points to discuss afterwards.

As for business, well, look at Ann Coulter if you need an example of a great money maker that requires very little grounding in reality or politesse -- far less than Steve's article.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I completely missed this article and accompanying thread and have just waded through both-

The problem I have with the piece is that it takes so long for it to establish a reason for existing in the first place. The first seven paragraphs (minus quotes from other sources) are criticisms of her work, with no context. Then, we get to what I think is the reason that the piece was written- she's launched a web site. OK, well, then this "column" is a review of her web site. That's fine. It's a review of her site and describes that she's a bad blogger, and then criticizes her work that is apparently also linked to on the site.

Again, fine, a reviewer/columnist has every right to critique anything they want, but this is not a clear review, instead, this column reads to me as a long time gripe that was looking for a reason for existing.

Cheers,

Charles

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good morning, all. A good night's sleep and finishing some real work make it easy to face the day. :biggrin:

Except that I'm still confused. Here's what was quoted in the article:

She now has a drop-dead gorgeous Web site, where you can glean this from her bio:
And then the New York Times came calling again. I was lured back in late 1998 to be deputy editor of the Dining In/Dining Out section, but it didn't take me long to realize that rewriting was nowhere near as much fun as writing. Starting in 2001, I reported stories on subjects as diverse as Andre Soltner and Wayne Thiebaud, America's best-selling food magazine (not Gourmet), cooks' and restaurateurs' recovery from 9/11, eating in Chicago, Christmas in Montreal, fruit carts in Manhattan and the post-Euro dining scene in Paris.

For 11 months I had the best job at the paper, until the Dining editor went west and the section went south. I quit and am now working on a book, freelancing for magazines and writing for the Los Angeles Times on contract from New York.

Now, doesn't that sound as though she is not with the Times anymore? (Note to self: the giveaway might be "I quit and am now working on....") Yet here we have Steve K's stated reason for his piece:

. . . . .We're left with why.

Why? For that, you'd have to realize who we're talking about here--a very influential, very powerful, #2 person as deputy editor and feature writer for the most significant, most widely read food section in the most significant food city in the US. That's who.  . . .

. . . . .

Still we're left with why bash? Do you have such short memories? Why did Amanda see fit bash Emeril? Why did Amanda and Steingarten bash Bourdain and his book on Slate? Why ask why?

Dig into the examples referenced here--and ask if I and all the others who have posted about this on various threads are right in feeling this way about Schrambling?  The thing with Schrambling is I think we've traced a pattern of behavior worth commenting upon that's coupled with very high self regard.

As I wrote earlier, I'm hard pressed to think of anyone else with this profile that could be questioned like this.  That's why.

(Note to self: check when the LA Times became "the most significant, most widely read food section in the most significant food city in the US.") Or is Steve saying that because she USED TO BE #2 at The New York Times, and presumably wielded great influence (both past tense), she NOW deserves this treatment? I would have just privately said "Good riddance to bad rubbish" and looked for a juicier, more contemporary target. And his saying, in effect, "Look, THEY did it, so why mayn't I?" brings it back to the nya nyaaaa, high-school-locker-room aura mentioned earlier (several times, by several different people).

See why I'm still confused?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm confused too. Is this kind of article and the resulting thread that the mods or coordinators or whatever they call themselves now mean when they say they want to create the best food site on the web? What has happened in recent weeks is that they have ruined what was the best foodsite on the web.

Edited by Sandra Levine (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm confused too.  Is this kind of article and the resulting thread that the mods or coordinators or whatever they call themselves now mean when they say they want to create the best food site on the web?  What has happened in recent weeks is that they have ruined what was the best foodsite on the web.

Sandra, can you elaborate on this? Perhaps in Site Talk?

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...