Photo: Ruth Bourdain
The hilarious persona is a mash-up of Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain who quickly gained attention by reworking Reichl's zen 140-character tweets into raunchy Bourdain-like missives. But before this nomination, the persona was little more than a lark. Now Ruth Bourdain shares the same James Beard ballot as L.A. food critic Jonathan Gold and renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The nomination is shaking up food circles, with some foodies saying it undermines serious food journalism, while others, like Saveur's Gabriella Gershenson, think it's all in good fun. (She gave the nod a "Bravo! (Brava?)" on her twitter account.)
In their mission statement, The James Beard Foundation declares themselves "at the center of America's culinary community, dedicated to exploring the way food enriches our lives." Twitter? Community. Humor? Enriching. Dedicated? Sure, the Bourdain face with the wild, wavy hair was a little creepy at first, but anyone who's followed Ruth Bourdain long enough can see that whoever she/he may be is as relevant as any other player in our food community. To wit, take these lines:
• "Purple haze all in my brain. Lentils don't seem the same. Acting funny and I don't know why. Excuse me while I kiss this rice."
• "Smoked some bad tangerine zest and read some @bittman tweets. All depressed and s***t."
• "Taco Bell has admitted that its tacos are only 35% beef. Wait until you find out that the other 65% is fake blueberries."
That's cultural relativism. And poetry. Plus, if this funny guy/gal gets the medallion, won't he/she have to take the stage? Ruth Reichl hopes so.