The Minimalist is gone.


“The Minimalist” was a The New York Times column by Mark Bittman, cook for everyman.  His column came with a video, each for something simple: frittatas, pickled lemon, chicken under a brick.  After 13 years and over 700 columns, Bittman has decided to move on.


I don’t think Bittman cooks especially well; he can’t plate at all; but he has great comic timing and exudes fun.  (I have often tried to spy him on his lower-Manhattan runs.  He makes himself—not his family, but his favorite places to buy vegetables, his running route, his humor—known through his videos.)  His bestselling How to Cook Everything is a great map for making everything basic and some things divine; it’s the only cookbook I use.  (“It’s the dirtiest cookbook in our kitchen,” chef Mario Batali has said, too.  Make us mates in our tastes, Bittman.)

Bittman published that first bestseller in 1998, after no formal training in cooking but lots of experimenting and public face time (Bittman’s a people person more than a chef).  He wrote some other food books, too, like Food Matters and How to Cook Everything VegetarianNow, he’s dropping his online video blog to write on varied topics (some food-focused) for the magazine and the Opinion section.


I’ll miss you, Minimalist videos.  I have had four staple routines with The New York Times: “Sunday Routine” in the Metropolitan section, “Modern Love” in Sunday Style, the wedding video on Sunday, and, most devotedly, the minimalist videos.  They have been my procrastination, my midday salivation, my imagined activity that I almost never complete at night.  They are candy: a snap of someone being sloppy and informal about his profession.  I’ve learned to cook one or two things in them.


The frittatas, for instance.  I will hold onto you, Bittman frittata, a good light way to eat egg and cheese.  You please me.  You have a minimal bit of egg and a good bit of salt in your sharp parmesan, tang in your tarragon.  We cook bundles of asparagus like logs banging in the pot, until they peak in green, then pour them into ice water, to sustain.  The shallowest bed of egg meets a logroll of asparagus; smothered in your cheese and herb, you are light; with a slice of sourdough and a glass of wine, you are fine.


So dies a simple one.  He was a cushion for the brain in midday.  But we’ll probably get to follow him on.  Bittman is good friends with Batali, who’s certainly active, and he has multiple political things still to say about eating healthy (he has a no-meat-during the day policy.  He says he lost lots of weight by only eating veggies till dinner time); and so I’m sure he’ll be offering us some new tome soon.



Ilana Simons is a therapist, literature professor, and author of A Life of One's Own: A Guide to Better Living through the Work and Wisdom of Virginia Woolf. Visit her website here.

by on ‎01-28-2011 02:40 PM

Ilana, the way you write about Fritattas, yum!...maybe you should be doing a column/video on cooking, for the NYT, yourself!  I'm sorry he'll be going on to other things.  Sounds like you'll miss him.


Most Sundays my friend, Susie, comes over to do her laundry.  Either I cook, or she cooks for me, depending on how my wrists are feeling that week.  She loves my cooking, and I love hers...makes for a great friendship!  I came up with a wonderful concoction this last Sunday, baby artichokes she had given me, straight from where they are raised, here in Calif., and tri-colored cous-cous.   If you like either one of these, you'll love them baked together in the herbs, spices, olive oil, and wine I threw into it!  Unfortunately, I forgot myself and drank more than one glass of wine, my I was cooking, and eating.  Not a good thing, for me!

by MSmithKS on ‎01-28-2011 03:29 PM

Next time I'm in a restaurant and I want to impress somebody, I won't be able to resist making a comment about how the food is "okay, I guess, but they can't plate at all here."

About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.


Since 1997, you’ve been coming to to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.