In 2006, I wrote a few guest posts on what was a relatively new medium, a blog, a popular and friendly one called Megnut, written by the wonderful Meg Hourihan. Food blogs were relatively new then. She’d begun her blog in 1999 and then turned it into a food blog the year I found her (a friend called my attention to her review of my book The Making of a Chef and we struck up a conversation).
I loved this new form and started my own. Blogging allowed me to write about what was on my mind and gave me the unexpected pleasure of being able to connect and communicate directly with readers, food bloggers, home cooks, and chefs.
I blogged regularly for the next nine years.
In 2015, a difficult divorce sidelined me. When I told a divorced friend that my wife and I were divorcing after 25 years, he said,
“Gee that’s too bad, Michael. I’m sorry.” Then he said, “Five years.”
“Five years?” I said.
“That’s how long it takes before life begins to feel normal again.”
So here I am, five years later, remarried, living in Providence, RI (NYC will have to wait till after Covid)
Why a newsletter?
I find myself missing those two components I loved so much about blogging: writing what was on my mind and connecting with readers about food and cooking. But the nature of blogs and blogging have changed. The best blogs have become conglomerates (Serious Eats, Food52, The Kitchn) with many contributors. I’ve kind of lost touch with the single-person bloggers (though not David Lebovitz). And those blogs tend to work best when they’re specifically recipe focused.
I need, use, and create recipes for books (my last book was From Scratch and has a whopping 175 recipes—I guess you could say one thing led to another, which is kind of what the book is about). But not I loved about blogging. Blogging was for opinionated food writing. I love technique, because knowing a good technique gives you a thousand recipes. Like knowing how an egg white works is like having an all-purpose tool in your back pocket, whether making a cake or a cocktail (a whiskey sour for instance). Also, I’m a writer and need some room to write.
Happily, between 2015 and now, Substack.com came along with this intriguing platform. The Newsletter. (David Lebovitz just moved his excellent letter to substack.)
I used to love writing letters, and still do write to a few close friends, what would have been two, three, five typed pages, stuffed in an envelope and posted. I remember, when I was just starting out, the mail was the only thing that happened in a day. Writing letters was a substantial part of teaching myself to write. One of my mentors, Arthur Gelb, then managing editor of the NYTimes, gave me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten when he told me how to write an article for their travel section.
“A great travel piece is just a great letter home,” he said.
Which is what I intend this newsletter to be.
I’ll be sending out a letter every other Saturday, starting tomorrow. Each one will include food news and opinion; news about chefs I work with; dishes I’ve love, what I and my wife, Ann Hood (she’s a writer too and devoted cook and baker at home), have been eating and cooking, a recipe to inspire, a new cocktail, as well as books and movies we’re reading and watching, and links that we’re loving.
Hope you’ll subscribe (it’s free!) and if you like it, please share it. Hope you all had a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.
Substack also gives you these cool buttons that are so easy to use: