Dept. of Corrections Archives
In the preface to The United States of Arugula, I allude to Cook’s Illustrated magazine as a “meticulousy researched, trend-averse anti-glossy that has thrived since its founding in 1980.” Reader Angela Miller of southeastern Pennsylvania wrote in to say that she’s certain that Cook’s Illustrated didn’t exist until 1993, since she has its debut issue from that year. Ms. Miller is right. Christopher Kimball, the bowtied editor of Cook’s Illustrated, did indeed introduce a magazine in 1980, but it was a predecessor to his current empire (which also includes Cook’s Country magazine and the America’s Test Kitchen show and books), and it was simply called Cook’s.
In the chapter of The United States of Arugula that deals with how the 1960s and ’70s counterculturists influenced American eating habits, I devote considerable space to the tale of Mollie Katzen, author of The Moosewood Cookbook. Katzen, who was one of my favorite interviews for the book, a funny, smart, engaging woman, recalled that when she was an undergrad at Cornell University, she was moved to bail on the college and relocate to the San Francisco Art Institute because she couldn't abide the student-led shutdowns of the Cornell campus that occurred in 1969 and 1970. “I just kind of wanted to go to school,” Katzen told me. “Everyone was like, ‘Nixon invaded Cambodia, so we shouldn’t go to school!’ I was thinking, ‘I don't completely see the connection.’” Though Katzen would later return to Ithaca, the home of Cornell, to help open the Moosewood Restaurant, her stay in the Bay Area proved crucial to her culinary education, alerting her to the possibilities of a vegetarian cuisine that was actually flavorful and pleasurable, as opposed to the brown-rice “remorse cuisine” that East Coast hippies were still eating.
But it turns out I was wrong to attribute the Cornell campus shutdowns purely to antiwar protestors. A reader named David Parker, a lecturer in history at the California State University at Northridge, writes in to say, “The shutdown in 1970 was indeed because of Cambodia, but the 1969 shutdown had nothing to do with Southeast Asia. During the spring semester, a number of African-American students occupied Willard Straight Hall, the student union, for three days. I was a sophomore at the time.” Parker provides this link to a contemporary Time magazine article that describes the standoff. It’s fascinating both as a semi-forgotten bit of social history and as a glimpse of the mindset of Time at its Voice of the Establishment peak.
In describing the first American cookbook, Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery (1796), on page 13 of The United States of Arugula, I note her recipe for “Beft bacon,” adding in a parenthetical aside that “printers had not yet sorted out their use of f’s and ornamental s’s.”
Marvin Taylor, who is the director of the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University, and who was especially helpful to me as I researched the early chapters of the book, writes in to point out that what I describe an an f “isn’t really an f, it is what is known as a ‘long s.’ If you look closely at it, the cross bar doesn’t go all the way across. If it did, it would be an f. It goes only halfway, and is, thus, an s. While it looks odd to us, the long s was a typographical convention in English printing until the mid-19th century. It came over from handwriting into typography. You usually see it in the middle of words where there is an s or whenever there are two s’s together.”
Truth be told, I was aware that these f-lookin’ s’s are indeed s’s, and I was simply trying to convey how they read to the modern eye: “best” reads as “beft.” It’s like that great Ron Carey line in one of the ancient Rome scenes of Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I: “You’re nuts! N-V-T-S nuts!”
But Taylor is right, the way I worded that sentence in the book, it sounds like the printers made a mistake, when, in fact, they knew exactly what they were doing and were correct in their usage.
On page 209 of the book, I say that the Peruvian-born cook and James Beard protégé Felipe Rojas-Lombardi was “for a time a partner in [Dean & DeLuca] with the namesake owners.” While Joel Dean, before his death, described Rojas-Lombardi as a “fourth founder” of the upscale food store (along with Dean, Giorgio DeLuca, and Dean’s companion, Jack Ceglic, who designed the store), Giorgio DeLuca has called to tell me that it would be “revisionist history” to call Rojas-Lombardi a full-fledged partner. DeLuca duly credits Rojas-Lombardi with being a fantastic cook and a driving force behind the shop’s innovative prepared-foods section, “but Felipe was never a partner.” So noted.
One of my FCFs (favorite chefs forever), Judy Rodgers of San Francisco’s Zuni Café, has alerted me to a mistake on page 276 of the book concerning her participation in the Farm-Restaurant Project, an admirable early-’80s undertaking in which several Bay Area restaurants banded together as a bloc to buy speciality produce from small farms. I say that Judy’s Zuni Café was among the participants, but, as Judy writes to me, “I wasn’t yet at Zuni during this critical, seminal project.” Nevertheless, Judy was a participant in the Farm-Restaurant Project, in her then capacity as chef of the Union Hotel in Benicia, CA.
I promised that I would post corrections if readers found mistakes in the book, and already, eagle-eyed Amy Fine Collins of Vanity Fair has caught a wee muck-up by me. On p. 241 of the book, in writing about Wolfgang Puck’s short-lived stay in New York City in the early 1970s, I describe La Goulue as “the ladies-who-lunch bistro on Madison Avenue.” (Puck, thinking a plum restaurant job awaited him in New York, was affronted to discover that the job was at La Goulue, and turned it down.)
Collins, a lady who lunches, notes that in those days, La Goulue was not on Madison, as it is now, but in the east 60s. Got it? Okay, now, readers: Order Collins’s The God of Driving, and find some mistakes in her book.