It’s an irony on the order of…let’s see, taking the last garbage bag out of the box, then putting the box into the bag you just took the bag out of…that my first post will be a link to a story I did for today’s Salon.com, which results from my comments on a blog, megnut, on the subject of foie gras, and furthermore I did this because of and with my evil doppelganger, the globe-trotting, TV hosting, best-selling, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who gets me into more trouble than I can admit even to my long suffering wife (he also editorializes in the star ledger on the subject–I helped him a bit with his prose, as much as I could).  Apparently this foie issue has reached New Jersey.  I don’t think it will come to anything but it provides an opportunity to understand what’s really at stake and what’s important.

If Thomas Jefferson could see now what’s happening in agriculture in this country, he’d be on hands and knees, retching, from sadness and despair.

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17 Wonderful responses to “Ironies in Blogging”

  • YLC

    I think your page looks great–I like what you say though I think it could be neater–shorter–more direct–And I don’t think you’ve written too many books
    D

  • Dianne

    I ran across your “food writing” via Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations’ Las Vegas episode and have enjoyed your writing style and humor and willingess to take on a cause (egullet, megnut). Just picked up The Reach of a Chef and am looking forward to starting tonight.

    I did not however make the connection that you were the same author who wrote Walk on Water until I visited your site today. I had the good fortune to stumble across this work at a bookstore last year just after the birth of my niece who was born with multiple cogenital heart problems. Your book was a Godsend at that time and provided a greater understanding of the anatomy of the heart and the surgical procedures required than I was able to locate in other research. Also your study of Dr. Roger Mee and his relationship with his patients and work served as not only a source of awe but insight on why these guys sometimes adopt the posture they do and their coping strategies. I cannot begin to comprehend how they maintain composure much less the degree of skill they employ to save lives. Your work served as a great instillation of hope and to reduce my and subsequently family’s anxiety considerably. (I want to go back and reread as I intially devoured in two sittings) My niece had the good fortune to have Thomas Spray, MD at CHOP as her surgeon and it was good to have some reference of his ability and reputation outside the medical field as you so aptly revealed sometimes is frought with politics when it comes to referrals. I have since referred others to Walk on Water and will continue to do so. (My niece will have challenges with more surgery in the future but isotherwise a healthy free wheeling toddler oozing personality.)

    Sorry to be so verbose but I wanted to express my appreciation and convey the effect of your work on a very personal note. Thanks again for your efforts and I look forward to continuing to enjoy your commentary and future books.

    By the way…how did such a nice, clean cut, Duke educated guy as yourself end up engaging in debauchery with Bourdain?

  • ruhlman

    Dianne, thanks. Of all my books, Walk On Water is the one I’m most proud of, from a reportorial standpoint. I’m glad it was helpful to you.

    as to how a clean cut middle class suburban dukie wound up hanging around a scoundrel like bourdain? Honestly, it was luck.

  • Bux

    My guess is that the proposed bill in NJ is going nowhere, but that’s not the point because the issue is going to keep coming up. I don’t know that every politician with his eyes on banning foie gras is a vegetarian like Panter, but the major lobbyists and activists against foie gras seem to be. Foie gras is the easy target. It’s as alien a food to most Americans as anything on the market and thus already suspect. Indeed, it doesn’t even have an American name like “corn fed beef.”

    I won’t defend the production, sale and consumption of foie gras on the grounds it’s an underdog, however. There’s simply no strong evidence that the practice of gavage is harmful or even stressful to the ducks. Jeffrey Steingarten, in his recent Men’s Vogue article, reported on medical and scientific studies that debunk the idea that gavage is stressful to water fowl. By the way, water fowl throats are more than naturally tough, I understand they are lined with bristles of stuff similar to fingernails. That, not gavage, is what would keep me from wanting to come back as a duck.

    Corn fed beef, on the other hand could easily be described as an abomination against nature as well as animal husbandry at its ethical nadir. Cattle are designed and built by nature to eat grass, not grain. Pollan, in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” describes cattle in feedlots standing ankle deep in shit as they feed on corn and he describes what steps have to be taken to get them to grow and get fat on that unnatural diet, but consumers have developed a taste for that cheap beef and foie gras producers are an easier target than the industrial cattle and chicken businesses.

    There’s little in the way of a health issue either. Foie gras, although just about 100% fat, is at least closer to olive oil than lard in terms of saturation and even those who eat it regularly, don’t eat all that much of it. There are health issues in regard to trans fats and I, for one, would like the opportunity to avoid it. Labeling would do the trick for me. I suspect biscuits made with lard would be tastier and healthier than those made with hydrogenated shortening. The one thing that ties the proposed legislations together is that I don’t have any faith in the potential for the legislators to get a deep understanding of the subjects at hand and to qualify themselves to make the decisions you and I must follow. I’d have a hard time disagreeing with a law that required french fryers to use beef tallow in lieu of trans fats, but I worry about the precedent of those kinds of decisions being made by legislators simply because I believe they aren’t going to be educated enough to make that kind of decision and because it’s going to take time and effort from the real job of running the government. Still, I’m not sure the two issues are of the same cloth. Truthfully, I’m not sure Tony isn’t trying to get smoking back into my favorite restaurants.

  • ruhlman

    agreed on every one of these great points, bux.

    and of course you know that if tony could bring smoking back to your favorite restaurants, he’d do it.

  • Tana

    Michael,

    You have no idea—or maybe you do—how much it delights me that you are doing this blog. IT will allow people who aren’t even foodies to find your work.

    I couldn’t be happier for you, and take a drop of joy in having had some small part in encouraging you to take this step.

    Bravo, and congratulations.

    Signed,
    Your biggest flan

  • Jason Perlow

    Congrats on the blog, Michael!

    I read your postings on Meg’s site and I found them to be great stuff. I’m sure you’ll be raising the bar for the rest of us with your new site.

    Jason

  • sam

    And don’t forget your little fan here from the early days. Good ti see you have the linking down now.

    I have been reading you ever since your first post, online and off. I was a little perplexed when you left Megnut, but now I see why.

    Glad to have you back in the blogosphere.

    sam

  • rockandroller

    Great to see you have your own blog now. I can’t believe it took you this long! :)

    N

  • Backyard Chef

    Michael–

    So glad to see you here in the blog world! I’ve enjoyed your posts on Megnut as well as your books, which were compelling, addictive and generous.

    Thanks!

  • enoch choi

    welcome to blogging! I’ve loved your books… the reality portrayed in Making of a Chef humbled me enough to decide to keep on seeing patients rather than make a foray into cooking school (chefdom sounds way more tough than medicine). And last night I watched the Las Vegas edition of No Reservations — great job at paralleling “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” but where was the psychadelic lizard people and mad-max dust bunnies? You’ve gotta get more literary references into Bourdain’s show, man! ;)

  • becky

    Wow, finding out you had a blog just made my week. Looking forward to reading more!

  • Craig Reinhart

    Michael, my wife just bought Charcuterie for me – a fabulous book. Since starting it I have proceeded to totally grossed her out with your story about eating deep fried pork belly confit in Seattle.

    While my day job is commercial real estate, my Passions include dry curing meat, wooden boats, wine, various distilled spirits, guitar…

    I started a web community (www.doitwithpassion.com) focused connecting with others around our life passions and will endorse Charcuterie as a “Must Read”.

    Many thanks for a great read and furthering my appreciation for food.

    “Do it with Passion”

    CR

  • Josh

    Ruhlman,

    You want a laugh? Go to Charlie “Mr.-Eco-Friendly-Food-Only” Trotter’s website. Look at his restauarant menus on the website. I do find it interesting that he won’t serve foie gras, yet he’ll serve things like veal liver and duck gizzards!

  • Silverbrow on Food

    Michael Ruhlman’s blog

    You won’t get much better writing than at Michael Ruhlman’s new blog. I’m not sure it’s going to be all about food, but it’s a fair bet a lot of it will be.