It’s that time again! Time to reminisce about the year that was and honor the people who kept our mouths open all year long.
For the second year, Endless Simmer is doing just that with our Eater of the Year awards. Some of our nominees are serious, some less so, but all of them made this year tastier than all the years that came before.
Of course, only you can decide who the ultimate Eater of the Year is, so please cast your vote below.
And the nominees are…
Last year you voted the irrepressible Anthony Bourdain as our inaugural Eater of the Year. This year, Bourdain was repressed. So many entities have tried to take the haughty T-Bo down a notch in his life — Rachael Ray, Food Network execs, cocaine — but all of them have failed. Finally, the “Bourdain-veganizing collective” Hezbollah Tofu put a dent in his armor. Responding to Tony’s infamous quote that “vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn,” Hezbollah Tofu embarked on an ambitious year-long crusade, cooking and blogging their way through Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, without using an ounce of meat or dairy. While they didn’t convince us to put down the bacon just yet, HT amused and enticed us all year long with recipes like lentils tartare, seitan au poivre, and creme-less creme caramel. For taking the “bore” out of herbivore, Hezbollah Tofu is our vegan of the year.
If 2007 was the year Americans learned to be locavores, 2008 was when attacked the corporate agribusiness overlords with a vengeance. And the primary reason why every average joe and middle America housewife has turned against high-fructose corn syrup and factory farm chickens is this lovably dorky UC-Berkeley professor. Pollan burst into the mainstream with his 2006 opus The Ominvore’s Dillemma, and followed it up with this year’s equally engrossing In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. While Pollan has no doubt been overhyped and praised beyond belief, it certainly is amazing that in a country where people don’t have time to chop their own onions, millions of folks are reading 400-page manifestos about industrial corn production. Have we shaken the corporate food addiction? Absolutely not. But it is safe to say Pollan changed the conversation, and without him, we probably wouldn’t have successes like California’s Prop 2, and we certainly wouldn’t have a blogosphere on fire about prospective Secretary of Agriculture candidates.
Celebrity food endorsements have always been a pretty laughable deal. Does Alton Brown really drink Welch’s? I don’t think so. Does Rocco Dispirito cook pre-made pasta dinners at home? Yeah right, and those Olympic gymnasts chow down on McDonald’s burgers everyday. But there was one celeb endorser who had us in stitches this year. Playboy playmate and Hugh Hefner girlfriend #3 Kendra Wilkinson took her strange, fetishistic obsession with the Olive Garden to new heights when she asked Olive Garden waitresses to get naked for her. Never before have company PR folks stumbled over themselves so quickly to say “no comment” about an unsought endorsement. Does Kendra fully realize how ingenious an idea “the girls of the Olive Garden” is? We’re not sure, but we’re gonna give her credit.
Speaking of ditsy blonds, you may have hated her for awhile, but in hindsight, you’ve just got to love Cindy McCain. Sure, Hillary Clinton famously said she wasn’t going to hang around the White House baking cookies all day, but when push came to shove, Hill toned down the feminism, stood by her man, and even put a chocolate chip cookie recipe on the White House website. But Cindy? She could not be bothered with crap like that. When McCain aides asked her to be a good wifey and post her family recipes on the campaign website, Cindy tossed her gin and tonic on the ground and said “eff that, just google some Rachael Ray crap and put my name on it.” Then, even after she got caught stealing recipes, Cindy did it again! When Family Circle asked her to enter the traditional First Ladies cookie bake-off, she submitted a family fav — which just happened to come from the back of a Hershey’s Bar. What balls this lady has! Sure, her angry hubby fell about 150 electoral votes short of the White House, but one thing is crystal clear: Cindy McCain is not your bitch.
When erstwhile body-wonderer John Mayer launched his food blog in 2007, we called him a douche, and John got a little upset about it. The truth is, we have to apologize. We thought JM was just another celebrity jumping on the food blog bandwagon, but it turns out he’s really committed to it. When he’s not busy making out with Perez Hilton, John has continued to update us on all his tasty adventures. If there’s one thing we need more of in this tough, poverty-stricken holiday season, it’s C-list celebrities live-blogging a frosted bundt cake. Did you know you can win an autographed signature series Fender Stratocaster guitar if you send JM your best cake recipe? Now this is a rock star we can get behind.
It’s a pretty sad fact that even dedicated foodies like us can rarely turn on the Food Network nowadays without wanting to gag. From cheating Sandra Lee to cutesy Giada to butter-soaked Paula Deen, it’s all so train-wreck awful. To be honest, it’s a little pathetic that we’re more excited for an upcoming movie about the original chef-lebrity, Julia Child, than anything today’s food TV can offer. So put down the remote and pick up a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, because the truth is, JC can still cook all these bitches under the table. Plus, she did it all while she was a mother-effing spy! Talk about badass. Imagine Rachael Ray concocting a flawless chocolate mousse while simultaneously stealing secrets from the Nazis. I don’t think so.
Previously on Endless Simmer:
2007 Eater of the Year Awards