As you know, the Streep Award is awarded every year to the individual who has done the most to piss all over Julia Child's life and work. The award is named after Meryl Streep and her grotesque and hamfisted portrayal of Child in the movie based on the book based on Julie Powell's blog about Child's book. The Cod will not rest until Streep is brought to justice, AKA forced to spend eternity on a Carnival cruise ship sailing between Tampa and Jacksonville performing a one-woman adaptation of Mama Mia.
But the Streep is strong in Mark Bittman. Evidently, the way to praise one icon of American cooking is to denigrate another:
In a way, Hazan was the anti-Julia Child, and Child had a sense of that. In a conversation shortly before her own death, Child said to me: “I don’t get the whole thing with Italian cooking. They put some herbs on things, they put them in the oven and they take them out again.” Exactly.
Exactly. Hazan exists in a universe that Child created, but whatever. It's also symptomatic of a broader problem in writing, which is that women are often presented to the public in pairs w/ some sort of presumed rivalry expressed in some sort of binary. Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, Adele and Amy Winehouse, etc. Meanwhile, men exist in more nuanced and complex constellations. But I digress, The lede is even worse, and does more of the same pairing stuff:
Marcella Hazan, who died Sept. 29 at the age of 89, never intended to bring real Italian cooking to America. But no matter how accidental her impact, it can hardly be overstated. What Alice Waters did for restaurants, Hazan did for home cooks, demonstrating that the simple treatment of decent ingredients leads to wonderful dishes.
Say what? I have my doubts about Alice, but again, there is an order of magnitude difference, Hazan is the Diana Kennedy of Italian cooking, while Alice Waters has transformed living in Northern California into an ideology.
Also, it's curious to read this so soon after the much discussed Time Inc sausagefest shitshow, in that Bittman's points of reference for Hazan are other female cooks/authors. It would be interesting to do a more systematic comparison, but for the sake of comparison, this remembrance of Charlie Trotter invokes a whole bunch of dudes: Grant Achatz, Wylie Dufresne, Ferran Adria, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, Tetsuya Wakuda and Pierre Herme, and not one lady.
More generally, is food writing really this much like the swimming pool at Bob Jones University, in that it can be occupied by men or women, but not both?