The Washington Post food section recently published a weird, bitchy profile of Diana Kennedy. I'm a little torn as I think in general, their food section is one of the highlights of the paper and I think the world of Diana Kennedy.The article is here.
Naturally, she's not happy with the writer. I could go on about the problems but instead, I think I'll post Diana Kennedy's response to the author:
Letter to: William Booth, Washington Post – Fiery Chronicler –11th January, 2011
After three arduous trips in the US to promote my book, Oaxaca al Gusto, I was persuaded by a respected acquaintance, photographer Keith Dannemiller, to accept that you come to do an interview in my Mexican home. (It is not usual or correct to take your wife along to an interview without mentioning it or asking if it is OK.) Yes, I was tired and mad. Trouble is I am too damned frank.
This article smacks of character assassination (although I am not surprised, The Washington Post had me dead abut 25 years ago and never had the courtesy to apologize when they found out I was very much alive and kicking.)
My helpers are always introduced to visitors (Ambassadors, scientists, even Prince Charles etc.) where were you? ..But then I see it is convenient to say so because you go on to insult one of my helpers by calling him a “serf”. They have been with me for many years and, as everyone who has been to my many classes knows, they are treated with respect and affection.
I object to “withering appraisal of competitors”, and “wrangling home cooks to reveal etc”....those are rather nasty and untruthful interpretations! And what’s a “killer mole” for goodness sake!
You were, I thought, supposed to come and talk about the book and see how I live in my Michoacan abode, but instead you repeat that silly, gossipy book Arrugula USA about something that happened 32 years ago. In the first place, I didn’t have a car so how could I have dumped him out???? A pure lie. I also said how much I admired him as an exemplary restaurateur who sources ingredients locally, and takes his staff every 7th July weekend to a great gastronomic experience in Mexico. And yes, I make no secret of the fact that I thought the White House menu totally inappropriate, but I did add that many of the ideas came from a committee and not directly from Rick.
Why is it that everyone delights in trying to put a wedge in between Rick and me.! And why the hell did you drink that coffee! It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for another reporter to visit me and I will quote your article as a reason why.
I love gossip and intrigue as much as the next person, but it's a shame the article wasn't about her seminal new book, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy (The William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere) The subtitle isn't Quick and Easy Weeknight Microwave Dinners from the Heart of Mexico. It's the kind of book that will inspire you and maybe even make you reach for the phone to book a flight to Mexico. You can cook from it, of course, but you won't find many burrito recipes!
For a more typical Diana Kennedy store, here's my account of the day she came to Rancho Gordo.