Alubia Blanca
My Scrapbook: Papantla and more Veracruz

Some Bad Press for Diana Kennedy and Her Response

The Washington Post food section recently published a weird, bitchy profile of Diana Kennedy. I'm a little torn as I think in general, their food section is one of the highlights of the paper and I think the world of Diana Kennedy.The article is here.


Naturally, she's not happy with the writer. I could go on about the problems but instead, I think I'll post Diana Kennedy's response to the author:

Letter to: William Booth, Washington Post – Fiery Chronicler –11th January, 2011

After three arduous trips in the US to promote my book, Oaxaca al Gusto, I was persuaded by a respected acquaintance, photographer  Keith Dannemiller,  to accept  that you come to do an interview in my Mexican home. (It is not usual or correct to take your wife along to an interview without mentioning it or asking if it is OK.) Yes, I was tired and mad. Trouble is I am too damned frank.

This article smacks of character assassination (although I am not surprised, The Washington Post had me dead abut 25 years ago and never had the courtesy to apologize when they found out I was very much alive and kicking.)

My helpers are always introduced to visitors (Ambassadors, scientists, even Prince Charles etc.) where were you? ..But then I see it is convenient to say so because you go on to insult one of my helpers by calling him a “serf”. They have been with me for many years and, as everyone who has been to my many classes knows, they are treated with respect and affection.

I object to “withering appraisal of competitors”, and “wrangling home cooks to reveal etc”....those are rather nasty and untruthful interpretations! And what’s a  “killer mole” for goodness sake!

You were, I thought, supposed to come and talk about the book and see how I live in my Michoacan abode, but instead you repeat that silly, gossipy book Arrugula USA about something that happened 32 years ago. In the first place, I didn’t have a car so how could I have dumped him out???? A pure lie. I also said how much I admired him as an exemplary restaurateur who sources ingredients locally, and takes his staff every 7th July weekend to a great gastronomic experience in Mexico. And yes, I make no secret of the fact that I thought the White House menu totally inappropriate, but I did add that many of the ideas came from a committee and not directly from Rick.

Why is it that everyone delights in trying to put a wedge in between Rick and me.! And why the hell did you drink that coffee!  It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for another reporter to visit me and I will quote your article as a reason why.

Saludos dk

I love gossip and intrigue as much as the next person, but it's a shame the article wasn't about her seminal new book, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy (The William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere) The subtitle isn't Quick and Easy Weeknight Microwave Dinners from the Heart of Mexico. It's the kind of book that will inspire you and maybe even make you reach for the phone to book a flight to Mexico. You can cook from it, of course, but you won't find many burrito recipes!

For a more typical Diana Kennedy store, here's my account of the day she came to Rancho Gordo.


Suvir Saran

No Burritos? In a Oaxacan cookbook? Really? What a shame! LOL!

Thanks for sharing this. Totally missed the piece in the Washington Post. Glad to see you share it.

I have tremendous respect for the food pages of the WP. I will need to read the piece and see what I think.

Your beans are inspirational. They are part of the sources page of the new book coming out in October. I am delighted to put in a plug for a product I SOOO love. Thanks for doing what you do Steve.

Carrie Tillie

Thanks, Steve! That *is* a juice read and I agree; a pretty bitchy and not-very-professional write-up. I'm surprised the editor let it go through. It just makes the writer look incredibly rude and unappreciative.

Cynthia Werner

I love her. I think both she and her books are fascinating. Thanks for posting this. It's a reminder to pick up the book!

K N_d

OOH, what a nice comment above from Suvir! Love his cooking and it's nice to see that he loves Rancho Gordo, too (who wouldn't?)
That said, back to the article at hand. Thanks for bringing this to light. The writing is sophomoric and very distracting considering the subject matter.
The quality of audience that will want to read about Diana Kennedy is far above that whining.

The Reader Responses/Comments that follow the Post article are better than the article itself :)

Keep up the good work, Steve... and Diana! -k

Mexico Cooks!

I read the Washington Post interview on Tuesday and was amazed at the flip and immature style that the writer affected in writing about Diana Kennedy, who is in every way deserving of respect and admiration. She paved the way for the those of us who write about Mexico's regional cuisines, and she opened the door to culinary joy to those who cook from her books.

What in the world could the WP have been thinking!


Well, somehow I missed that article. But it upsets me now just to read it. Mrs. Kennedy deserves great respect for all her books and specially this last one.

Thanks a lot for posting about it.



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