As is now tradition, Endless Simmer marks the end of each year by looking back at the chefs, restauranteurs, politicians, talk show hosts, bloggers, and ordinary culinary schmoes who make each year tastier than the one that came before. But unlike certain other publications, we don’t make the final decision ourselves (Ben Bernanke? booooring.) Instead, it’s up to you readers to decide who should join past winners Anthony Bourdain and Hezbollah Tofu in the Endless Eaters Hall of Fame, and more importantly, claim the crown of 2009 Eater of the Year.
So read up on our nominees and cast your votes below.
Foodies love to talk about how much we adore Julia Child. She introduced us to French food, she let us use butter, she never once said the word “yummo.” But the truth is, every icon can use a little updating — and really, if Julia was so perfect we’d all spend a lot more time re-watching Lessons with Master Chefs and a lot less tuning into Ace of Cakes, wouldn’t we? Only Streep could take the notoriously self-deprecating, gangly, mumbley Julia Child and turn her into a winsome, genius, sexy (was that just us?) star. If we could just get Meryl Streep to reenact every old episode of The French Chef, now that’s something we’d watch everyday.
We’ve been hyping Jose since way before he grilled Bobby Flay on TV and then schooled all comers on this year’s The Next Iron Chef, and with six eateries and counting, no one did more to put an American city on the culinary map this year than Philly’s Garces. Some might argue the world wasn’t in need of another name-brand chef-lebrity, but if this means Garces’ unique menus are coming to a city near us, we’re more than game.
One year into the Obama era and Guantanamo’s still open, wars are still being waged, and unemployed food bloggers everywhere are still living without health insurance. Well, at least there’s one person in the White House who doesn’t let Joey Lieberman tell them what to do. Mrs. O decided to forget about literacy, china settings, or whatever it is first ladies are supposed to do, and instead made her first year in office all about food. She invited culinary students to the White House, planted a vegetable garden on her front lawn, got a farmers’ market put in across the street — heck, she’s even going on Iron Chef! Now that’s what we call a year’s worth of accomplishments.
This is Why You’re Fat
Every year has one big concept food blog that takes the Internets by storm, a la Julie & Julia or Hezbollah Tofu. The 2009 entry was unquestionably This is Why You’re Fat, a hilarious, no-holds-barred look at the crap Americans actually put in our stomachs. Like some kind of greasy, pornographic car wreck, TIWYF is so wrong yet so right, and we just can’t look away.
A bit of a dark horse, but you’ve got to hand it to the only nightly newscaster willing to devote extended segments to taking on corporate agribusiness and their evil henchman. If you’ve got a free 25 minutes (and if you’re reading this, come on, you do), you really should watch Rachel’s hard-hitting piece about the DC lobbyists who spend millions of dollars trying to convince Americans that our fish need more mercury, our fats need more trans, and everything needs more high-fructose corn syrup. Plus, when was the last time you saw Keith Olberman talk Afghanistan policy while making a croquembouche with Martha Stewart? Did Walter Cronkite ever compare health care policy to ordering a pizza? Can Bill O’Reily show you how to mix a Jack Rose? Does Barbara Walters know where to find $2 tamales in Hell’s Kitchen? No, no, no, and no. Rachel Maddow: foodiest newslady ever.
Throughout the decade, Americans have become more and more obsessed with what we eat, and the whole foodie movement has been a constant struggle between two competing ideologies: the desire to be more in sync with our planet and our bodies, and the desire to wrap everything in bacon. But this was the year when people seemed to find a balance, when everyone and their mother became a part-time vegetarian, a vegan-til-nighttime, or a one-day-a-week meateater. Flexitarianism may not fully placate the PETA activists or sate the hardcore meatheads, but in contrast to all those other diet trends, it actually makes sense, and that’ s not something we see a lot of around these parts. (Hilarious illustration via Breckenreid)
Previously: 2008 Eater of the Year Awards