Dear Mary Frances,
Thank you for pioneering the genre of food writing. Your smart prose blazed the way for thousands of writers today – most significantly, female writers –stripping stigma from a field once thought to be solely esoteric and reminding us that food offers so much more than its nutritional content. Your writing rallies interest in the pleasures, no matter how modest, of the plate. I have read The Art of Eating at least half a dozen times, and I always discover new meaning with each reading. You are my idol.
Cher Jean Anthelme,
Your immortal words set the tone for each episode of Iron Chef. What would the tone of the show have been without them? Would Chairman Kaga have appeared so Chairman-ish? The Iron Chefs so ennobled? Your keen attention to the virtues of culinary enjoyment is rivaled only by your witty social commentary. I really appreciate that level of attention. I’ve been wondering… If I believe that wine, cheese, and bread are major food groups, does that mean I’m actually French? Do tell, do tell.
I’m thankful that we share a common first (and nick) name. I’ve often envied what I’ve read about your marriage to Paul. He wrote you lyrical love poems for your birthday, for goodness sake! Together, you created personalized valentines to share with friends each year. You had what truly seemed like a passionate storybook relationship. I envy that. But I also envy – perhaps I should say admire – your robust sensuality. You would have been so fun to party with! I would have loved to watch you at work in the kitchen. Sometimes I pretend to be you. (My daughter, Rory, finds these reenactments hilarious.) I think of you every time I accidentally drop a piece of food. Thank you for making it okay to use the five second rule.
Your writing gave me the idea to host a tea party in honor of my daughter’s birthday. As I draped beaded garlands over the lights and scattered lavender buds across the table, I thought I heard your voice calling out in singsong approval. Thank you for writing about your daughter with warmth and affection.
Though I think your wife, Alice, was spot on when she coined the term “food crazies,” and though chances are likely that I am one myself, I appreciate your sustained interest in all things food-related. Thank you for being a “food crazy.” Your version of the first Thanksgiving is far better than the one I learned in elementary school. I fully support your campaign to make spaghetti carbonara the official Thanksgiving dish.
You know you’ve got real cred when chefs all over the world refer to your tome as their “McGee,” as in, “I’ve got my McGee right here!” I thank you for your tome and your cred. You’ve helped me through many a food inquiry. I hope you don’t find this too creepy, but I think of you as Uncle McGee. You seem like the type of person I’d enjoy spending time with on my deck. As the sun descends over the western mountains, I might casually turn to you and say, “So, Uncle McGee? Tell me the story about when you wrote your book. Did you have a grant to fund your daily expenses as you researched?” And you might chuckle, take a sip of your Malbec, and say, “Well, it all started back in the eighties….”
You are an enigma when you guest-judge on Iron Chef America and Top Chef. You share the same name as one of my first “real” crushes, a sous chef named Jeff who worked at the finest dining establishment in my college town. The state he left me in was not funny, but you are. Thank you for giving your assistant a comically disproportionate amount of work to do and for fielding so many marriage proposals. Thank you for accidentally poisoning yourself with taro leaf and writing about it with humor.
Mushrooms, onions, butter, sour cream, and dill… Who knew? I serve your sour cream sauce over a big bowl of rice. The mushrooms whisper, “We are so happy,” and so am I. Thank you for loving fungi enough to dedicate an entire book to them.
I started watching your television show before I read any of your work. I (unfairly) assumed you had writers. Then I read your books, and your writing bowled me over. I couldn’t believe it! Your prose is tight! I haven’t had the good fortune to travel the world like you, but your writing amazed me with its ability to make me ravenous. I’ve never tried pho, and yet I feel as if I have tasted it with you on the streets of Vietnam. In my imagination, we traipsed across the globe throughout A Cook’s Tour, loosening our belts and belching happily. I was your Zamir. Thank you for making me hungry. Even though No Reservations is over, never stop being hungry for more, okay?
Cher Jean Louis,
Will you ever find me indispensable? I think the world of you and would gladly be your scribe. Thank you for renewing the zeal of my Francophilia.
Thank you for reading my work. I’ve been busy with a new job and haven’t been in the kitchen as much as I’d like, but I really appreciate all of your continued support. I am thankful for you. Happy Thanksgiving!