Friday, February 9, 2007

When life gives you New York Times

A week after "Playing with Fire" went live on Culinate, I started getting comments that we beat NY Times on the broiler story. I went to NY Times, and indeed -- Mark Bittman had the same brilliant idea. Of course, I'd love to imagine that he was inspired by my story, but the reality is that he probably doesn't even know I exist, and it's much more likely to be a complete coincidence. Still, I couldn't help feeling a little proud that my story was published first. As if to put me in my place, NY Times beat me to the punch on the lemon story. Not only that, it was called exactly the same as mine: "When life give you lemons." Oh yikes! Good thing I saw that before my story went live on Culinate.

Finding original topics in the world of food writing is tough. After all, we are all dealing with the same season, the same produce, and even the same puns! How many English expressions with the word "lemon" are there? Probably fewer than the food writers who want to write about lemons. At least by the time I finished reading the NY Times article, I realized that the title is the only thing I'll have to change. We were attacking citrus from completely different perspectives. NY Times story concentrated on the concepts, like lemons go well with salads, pasta, and many other thing. My story concentrated on techniques, like juicing and sectioning citrus. I guess even when life gives you lemons, you can find room for a little originality.

P.S. The picture above is of a Meyer Lemon Mousse that appears in the end of the Sweet Tarts (our new title) story on Culinate.

6 comments:

Pam said...

You can make the mousse with regular lemons, just use a bit more sweetened condensed milk [for sugar], or a bit less lemon juice and yest. Though it's not as good without the meyers, it's still fantastic!

Helen said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the lemon mousse tips. I think I should make you my official lemon mousse spokes person -- your wonderful comment about this mousse is what inspired me to include it in the lemon story :) By the way, I spotted some meyer lemons at Russo's yesterday.

Cheers,
-Helen

Terry B said...

Some food blogger who writes stuff I like--although I'm drawing a blank right now on who it is--tried the lemon confit from the Times with her mother and said it was ghastly. Just thought you'd like to know!

A great article on citrus, by the way--your Culinate post. Regarding when to use zest, it can be tossed with green beans or fresh pasta, for instance, or you can even stir it into a muffin mix for a nice fresh zing.

I was just reading an Italian soup recipe that called for adding one to two teaspoons of lemon juice at the end to, as the recipe charmingly put it, brighten the taste. A perfect description, I think.

Joyce said...

Tickled to find your blog - particularly today with 5 Meyer lemons begging attention. Seems we both have great taste, we've chosen the same blog template.

Kevin said...

This is crazy!! I was just going to shoot a show for my local cable access station specifically about Broiling, how it's completey underutilized, fun to do, allows you to grill year round in the comfort of your kitchen, etc -- and not only did the NY Times beat me to the punch, but you did to!! ARGH!!

Helen said...

Hi Kevin,

I hope you still get you shoot your show. Maybe we are starting a broiling trend. The thing is, there are so many different broiling techniques that I would actually appreciate having more than one source on broiling.

Cheers,
-Helen