Lisa and I were smart (and lucky) (and smart) enough to marry guys who know their way around the kitchen (I’ve linked our names to a couple posts, but click on the Dad’s cooking tag to see just how much we write about them). And it’s not just these two. For Father’s Day, here’s a look at some of the contributors to Cassoulet who prove that dads know their way around the kitchen, garden, and grocery store, too. Nine of the anthology’s essays reflect on the ways our fathers – for good or ill — shape our food choices.
Neal Pollack once published a column about an innocent stop at the cheese counter with his son; the haters descended and now, in his essay “Food Fight,” Pollack wonders why feeding our children provokes such judgment.
Keith Blanchard’s “The Sweet Life”. . . well, it’s not actually about his cooking; in fact, it’s his wife who makes beautiful, healthy meals so that he can get away with putting French Toast Sandwiches with Heath Bar Crumble on the breakfast table. This essay will have you laughing all the way to the dentist.
Max Brooks is in the news a little bit these days for the movie based on his book, World War Z, but his enormous vegetable garden isn’t preparation for the apocalypse; in “From the Land,” he describes how he and his father, Mel Brooks, garden to reconnect and remember his late mother, Anne Bancroft.
Bethany Saltman’s essay “Food of the Gods” sadly acknowledges the disconnect in her relationship with her dad. But as she prepares for Thanksgiving and thinks about his gravy recipe she realizes that his love of food was a surprising gift.
Novelist Deborah Copaken Kogan isn’t the cook in their family; it’s her husband Paul Kogan, a tech entrepeneur, who puts a nightly dinner on the table. Their essay-in-letters shares how the family Cassoulet Day began, and how the feast has come to anchor their marriage.
In “The Hunger Shames,” Karen Valby describes how her mother was too ill to provide much food or affection; it was Karen’s father who supplied a simple boiled dinner she could rely on. Now Karen’s husband updates the tradition with an Ethiopian chicken stew to feed his wife and newly-adopted child.
Gregory Dicum loves being vegan, but becoming a father, he writes in “Vegging Out,” complicates matters. “I like fish,” his young son announces. “I like to eat them. Dead ones.” His son’s words send Dicum on a wonderfully complicated examination of his own food choices.
New York Times food writer Jeff Gordinier reminisces about the amazing meals he shared with father and wishes he could get his kids to branch out; “Why Won’t My Kids Eat Foie Gras?” he wonders — they won’t even eat mashed potatoes!
“Bad and Plenty,” journalist Edward Lewine’s essay, investigates the food culture of the PTA. He found experts in the science of how we choose what we eat to shed some light on parental food anxiety and judgment. His funny, wry essay will make you wince with recognition.