Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dear Washington Post, NY Times Etc:

I keep reading about how newspapers have fallen on hard times. How they are desperately trying to appeal to readers. How they are trying to keep up with the plethora of "apps" and other ways of getting news and information.

Well, I've got some news for you, Times and Post. I may no longer be one of your younger readers and I'm indifferent to IPads, IPhones and "apps".  But I'm computer savvy none the less. And you have totally dropped the ball in your food department.

Somewhere in my house I have a folder full of newspaper cuttings from your food sections. Open any of the Man's books on food and similar clipping tumble out. Lots of terrific recipes that I gleaned over the years, some of which are now standards in my house.

But with the exception of Martha Rose Shulman's "Recipes For Health", I haven't clipped a recipe--or printed one out from your on-line versions in years.

Because it's become more and more obvious that while you want to attract more readers, you have in mind young, hip types and/or rich folk. There's nothing for people like me. People who like to cook REAL FOOD for REAL PEOPLE on a REAL BUDGET.

I can't afford the gourmet, free range designer lamb you were kvelling about last week. Regular leg of lamb at Wegmans is $7-8 per pound and I can't afford that, never mind $13 a pound. Do you realize that you are talking about probably $100 for a leg of lamb? That could buy my family most of our groceries for a WEEK!

I like ethnic cooking and do lots of it. But when you come up with an ingredient only available at certain selected farmer's markets in the hinterlands, who are you aiming that article at? Not folks like me, certainly.

And don't get me started on idiots like Mark Bittman, whose "Minimalist" recipes tend to be more complicated than special occasion meals I cook, and who preaches about healthy cooking and going green but has no idea of the realities of working families who don't have access to or funds for Whole Foods, Balduccis and green markets.

I want Pierre Franey. Yeah, I know he's gone, but surely there's someone with the spark of the "60 Minute Gourmet" out there--or perhaps you could run his old columns. I want someone like the "Desperation Dinners" ladies, or even Rachel Ray--she'd be a lot easier to tolerate on paper than she is honking on the Food Channel. 

I want someone writing  columns about making quick, tasty, healthy food that doesn't cost a fortune. You keep talking about the obesity epidemic, about the crisis among kids in school, but your newspapers don't reflect that on Wednesdays.

I may not be one of your chosen young, hip, audience. But there's lots of folks like me still out there, and we're the ones who actually pay for your print newspapers.

But we've also got the Internet-even those of us without I-anythings. And we're getting our recipes out there.
Not from your newspapers.

So put your money where our mouths are, or stop whining about your falling revenue.

The Library Lady


  1. Pierre Franey was great. One of the oldest cookbooks I have (that I personally bought - not a hand-me-down) is his.

    You made me go and flip through the Food section of my local paper. (I am one of those dinosaurs who does not use the computer for news, unless it's something that I am specifically looking up.) What I found was: recipes for ham glazes, a marinated, slow-roasted leg of lamb - no weird ingredients, tips for coloring eggs, a polenta side-dish, a biscuit recipe, and a totally hilarious "chocolate salami." Too bad about that one, because my sister-in-law asked me to bring dessert. Anyway, I think my local paper knows their audience :)

  2. Mine has an article on whether calorie labeling has an effect, a piece on a rich Frenchwoman and her rich daughter and how they cook elaborate meals every night and sit down for 2 hour dinners, the results of a March Madness beer taste off, and a piece on how calories in alcohol add up rapidly.

    There IS a recipe for tuna steaks w/a vinaigrette that the Man and I might eat (but not the girls) if it wasn't that even frozen tuna steaks are too pricey for us. Oh, and a couple of biscuit recipes from a new Natalie Dupree cook book, the sort that take forever to make and are loaded with fat. Sigh....

    I first spotted the Desperation Dinner ladies in a local paper that no longer exists. Telling...

  3. AMEN! I don't read the Times (I'm in Nebraska) but I am right there with you about how suddenly cooking is about emulsions and fennel pollen and free range vinegar and fair trade whatever the heck. God bless it all, but when you're trying to cook on a budget, there's not much in any newspaper and in fewer and fewer magazines that will help. I just discovered your blog and am thrilled to see some recipes that are new/manageable/affordable. YAY!



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