Ruhlman is Just Wrong

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I respect Michael Ruhlman.  He and Anthony Bourdain are pretty hilarious together and the guy just knows his stuff.  That only made me more disappointed when I saw this blog post from Ruhlman. 

I agree with the underlyling premise of Ruhlman's post that it's bullshit for people to say they don't have time to cook.  It's a choice that people make, not something imposed on them.  Even when I was a full time lawyer at a big fancy firm, I still made dinner 2-3 nights a week.  Now that I'm a part time lawyer at a normal firm, I cook 5-6 nights a week.  I might not feel like cooking every one of those nights, but I consider it a a responsibiilty that I have to my family.  Most nights, I cook a 30 minute meal because I get home around 5 or 6.  Some days, when I am home or on a weekend, I make a meal that takes anywhere from 1-4 hours.  So, I appreciate what Ruhlman is saying.

So here's the part of the post that really pisses me off:
Part of the problem is the magazine editors and television producers drumming us over the head with fast and easy meal solutions at home. It's the wrong message to send. These editors and producers and publishers are backing the processed food industry, propelling their message. What I say to you magazine editors and producers, to you Rachael Ray and you Jamie Oliver and your 20 minutes meals: God bless you, but you are advertising and marketing on behalf of the processed food industry.

First, I don't know if Ruhlman intends to, but he is implying hat Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver use processed food. She does not! Neither does Jamie Oliver! That is what they are both (and especially Jamie Oliver) are entirely against.  Um, have you seen Food Revolution?  That's the whole freaking point of the show.  So to pick those two out, people who have crusaded to get fresh food into schools instead of processed, people who write quick recipes without relying on processed food, is misleading.  People who don't know Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver will jump to the conclusion that they rely on that crap.  And they don't.

Second, is Ruhlman saying that simply by having stars promoting a 30 minute meal, people will jump to the conclusion that it has to be processed and will run out to the store for some hamburger helper? I think people understand the subtlety that you can cook a fresh meal in 30 minutes, without relying on processed junk. If they don’t, then they haven’t listened to Jamie Oliver or Rachael Ray in the first place.  So then how are Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver propping up the processed food industry by offering an alternative to it?  It just makes no sense and Ruhlman is just wrong. 

Ruhlman should be praising Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver for coming out against processed food and providing an alternative that is just as quick and easy.  People are smart enough to know the difference between the crap in boxes in the store and the fresh, simple, and healthy stuff that Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver promote.

So there.

PS - I know not all of Rachael Ray's meals are healthy, but I think we can all agree that through the vast majority of her recipes and through her non-profit organization, Rachael Ray is, on balance, a steadfast promoter of using fresh ingredients.  My grocery cart full of veggies every week is certainly evidence of that.  Just ignore the cookies I dropped in there, too.

16 comments:

Katie W said...

I am so glad you posted about this! I felt full of fury reading those comments! I doubt there is anyone who has done as much to reduce purchasing processed food as our Rach. As always, thanks for keeping us up-to-date!

Madeline said...

Katie - you should have seen the first draft of this post! I was so freaking mad when I first read it.

cakegrrl2007 said...

My admiration for Ruhlman and Bourdain has severly waned over the years. It's the same schtick over and over. They are so in love with their own act. They are pretty much dead to me and hold no relevance. Glad I am not the only one who feels this way.

Erin said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post Madeline! I honestly felt baffled after reading Michael Ruhlman's piece and couldn't figure out why he had singled out Rachael Ray or Jamie Oliver when they didn't actually tell people to cook with chicken nuggets or powdered sauces.

Interestingly enough he does have another post titled:

"Becoming Better Cooks, or Why Sandra Lee Is Not Evil Incarnate"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-ruhlman/becoming-better-cooks-or_b_535413.html

Sandra Lee is the queen of disgusting food from a package so...what gives?!

In the end, who cares if a recipe comes from one celebrity chef or another -- if they're using good ingredients and enjoying their time in the kitchen then it shouldn't matter a bit, right?

Madeline said...

I saw that post, too, Katie! So contradictory. I get frustrated when people equate Rachael Ray with Sandra Lee. Clearly they have never watched either one cook nor have they cracked a cookbook from either.

I have said it before, but I will say it again - I had never even eaten broccoli before I started cooking! And look at me now, for God's sake.

Anonymous said...

Rach doesn't even use minute rice. She makes her own dressings and sauces. She has never used a canned cream soup. Yeah she makes alot of pasta and burgers and uses too much cheese at times but it's not processed food.....

Madeline said...

So true, Anony. I just wish people understood that.

Melynda said...

Great post and comments. I am always amazed at how loud some folks talk, especially when they are wrong. Ray and Oliver have a spot in and a right to, the marketplace, the same as anyone does. Too bad that same marketplace has become so political that one will use the other as a means of self promotion. Anyone that promotes home cooked food and eaten together meals is on the right track.

Sally said...

I definitely have some complaints about Rachael's recipes. She uses too much meat and cheese and her portions are too large. I cook for a family of 3 adults. I cut her recipes in half and have more than one portion leftover. But she certainly doesn't use too many processed foods. Even Paula Deen uses far more than Rachael does!

colfin said...

Clearly he doesn't have a clue! And he's such a hypocrite... HE pointed out in one of his books (can't remember which one) that he's a WRITER not a CHEF/COOK. So where does he get off?

What made me mad, along with others, was the suggestion that RR uses/pormotes using premade food. If RR or JO inspire someone to cook at home, doesn't that say something positive?

I agree that RR servings are large, but I know that and cut them in half and save my leftovers. No big deal there.

And I agree with cakegirl... Ruhlman and Bourdain need to get over themselves.

Anonymous said...

Does Bourdain even cook...??? All he seems to do is make a hobby out of talking crap about everyone else- especially our Rachael... and anyone who talks about Rachael does not get a minute of my attention. Ruhlman, Bourdain and now Martha- BA BYE !!! Rachael ROCKS!

Patsyk said...

I'm quite surprised by his stance on what both Rachael Ray & Jamie Oliver are promoting. I don't recall many recipes from RR that say to use anything processed... it's all "real" food. Not always light on the calories, but it is real and not processed.

Anonymous said...

Rachael Ray's recipes are loaded with too much cheese, too much bacon, and too much beef. All that cheese, bacon, and beef is extremely unhealthy. If getting cancer is your goal and particularly breast cancer, keep loading up with the worst animal fat available every single day of your life because an animal's toxins are stored in its fat tissue and this makes cheese, bacon, and beef a daily toxic feast. I look forward to the day when Rachael Ray stops teaching women to consume so much cheese and bacon.

Madeline said...

Anony, I don't want to live in a world that doesn't have too much cheese and bacon.

Anonymous said...

You left out the finale. You should said, "I don't want to live in a world that doesn't have too much cheese and bacon and cancer."

Madeline said...

Shoot, you are right, I did leave something out - donuts. Man, I love donuts.

Rach is always saying everything in moderation and I agree. Having a cheesy, bacony, beefy meal every once in awhile isn't going to give anyone cancer. But I can tell you what it will give me - joy. ;) Doing anything that's bad for all the time is, well, bad for you. Since I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, I try not to worry about it!

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