My Thoughts on the Ruth Reichl (Gourmet Magazine Editor-in-Chief) Event in Palo Alto
The Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley presented a special event with Ruth Reichl, Gourmet’s Editor-in-Chief, in Palo Alto yesterday. I couldn't miss it. The event was structured as an interview, and was actually streamed live on the radio as well.
Ruth -I say Ruth as if I already know her- has the countenance of a foodie-equivalent of Vogue's Anna Wintour. From the moment she opened her mouth though, her accessibility and warmth drew the audience in.
Her most recent book is entitled Gourmet Today. She wrote this fool-proof recipe book for her son Nick, who is a college student. Being away from home sparked in him an interest in cooking. He started calling and asking questions of his mom and this book answers all his questions.
First, Ruth defined what a gourmet was. In the past, Ruth thought of a gourmet as a fat, rich male who would best be described as a snobby bon-vivant! Her opinion has changed, and now she defines a gourmet as someone who loves food, regardless of its fat content. I have a different take. In my opinion, I would describe a gourmet as someone who cares about what they put in their mouth.
Ruth's description of what it means to be a gourmet reminded me of the French lifestyle. We love to meet around food, sit around a table and have time to chat with friends and family during our meals. I find it interesting that mentalities are changing in America and people are starting to take time to eat. It's not eating for the sake of eating, but rather enjoying food and taking time to savor a meal.
Many people insist that they don't have time to cook, and Ruth took aim at them with her next comments. She argued that we can always make time to whatever is important to us. I totally agree; cooking is no chore; it's an expression of love, and is one of the key factors that affects the health of your family. She said there has to be a generosity of cooking, a largeness of spirit. It made me laugh when she said that you have a good, not stingy in soul. She calls herself a home-cook, which may suprise some.
I will finish with her thoughts about how eating habits have changed in America. School lunches, for example, used to be limited to PB&Js, but immigration and maturing palates have brought forth a myriad of new options. I couldn't agree more; in fact I am representative of this change. My parents emigrated from Vietnam to France. Even though I was born in France, I was introduced to phở, canh chua and other Vietnamese fare, as well as all the favorites of French cuisine, such as ragoûts and pissaladière niçoise. I traveled a lot as a child in Europe, Asia and America and discovered a lot of new cuisines. And when I have children, their meals will feature foods from America, France, India and Vietnam.
Food is about your life, your emotions. When I moved to California to be with my husband, I discovered Indian cuisine thanks to Lulu's grandmother. The figurative melting pot has given way to a literal one in my home. As Ruth says, cooking is about caring, and we, "crave the kind of joy" that only comes from seeing your loved ones consuming the labor of my work. Nothing can beat that feeling.
Follow Ruth Reichl in her new TV show, Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth, starting October 18th on PBS.