When it comes to food, Mark Bittman is a visionary. He’s been writing about food since 1980, and for a bunch of those years, he did it for The New York Times, where his “Minimalist” column changed the way a generation thought about food. Or something very like that.
I had the opportunity to sit and chat (and eat!) with him in 2000, when he was promoting The Minimalist Cooks at Home (Broadway) and he told me, among other things, “The key to enjoying cooking is embracing simplicity. Simplicity in food is honesty, warmth, pleasure, modesty, even fairness. Simplicity in cooking is ease and grace.”
In 2007, Bittman pushed that grace to new levels when he produced How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. In an instant — and at an important moment — the book became a bible for a new generation of home chefs who were willing — no, anxious! — to embrace the tenets of old and new that Bittman popularized. His vision of what was simple. What was beautiful. What could be easily — and healthfully — done.
Ten years on, we’re still digging that message but were ready for an update, and Bittman has delivered. The anniversary edition of that 2007 book — new this week — is a thing of beauty. Everything we loved about the original is here, but Bittman has tweaked and finessed the first edition sufficiently to warrant buying this new version even if you own a beloved first edition. It’s that good. Cover blurbs from foodie icons including Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse, and author and chef Yotam Ottlenghi tell this story. If you are interested in serious, healthful vegetarian cookery, Bittman laid down the foundation with How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and has added to it significantly in the anniversary edition, released this week by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ◊
Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.