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Ruth Bourdain's Holiday Gift Guide

Published in Gourmet Live 12.05.12
Twitter's most vociferous gourmand and the author of Comfort Me with Offal offers her holiday gift ideas for those with special food needs

By Sara Bonisteel
Ruth Bourdain's Holiday Gift Guide

The true identity of Ruth Bourdain is one of the food world's best-kept secrets. Since 2010, RuBo has been recasting the haiku-like Twitter musings of Ruth Reichl ("Pouring rain. Falling leaves. World seems very small. Soft omelet, spilling Cheddar. Sweet sauteed peppers, very red. Sudden sunshine") in the acerbic style of Anthony Bourdain ("Pouring rain. World seems small. Smaller even than Wolfgang Puck. Flaccid omelet. Sauteed peppers: very red, aroused. Money shot of Cheddar"). Along the way, she's made her own observations ("It doesn't surprise me that there's a book called 50 Shades of Kale. I can't think of a more masochistic act than eating that vegetable") and garnered more than 60,000 Twitter followers and a James Beard Award for humor.

The elusive RuBo recently released her own tongue-in-cheek memoir, Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain's Guide to Gastronomy (Andrews McMeel), the title of which may or may not call to mind a certain best-selling memoir by a certain former editor of Gourmet. Between Tweets, RuBo took a few moments to discuss with Gourmet Live her favorite holiday traditions and how to satisfy everyone on your holiday gift-giving list—from the Paleo-Dieting friend to the cheese fetishist.

Gourmet Live: Ruth, thank you so much for speaking with us for our holiday issue. How do you like to celebrate?

Ruth Bourdain: I love the annual tradition of trimming the tree, especially with cured meats. You can string up salumi that's already been cured or hang raw pig parts and duck breasts rubbed with salt and herbs to cure right on the tree (just be careful to protect any gifts under the tree from drips).

GL: What is your favorite holiday meal?

RuBo: If potato latkes fried in lard is wrong, I don't want to be right.

GL: And your celebratory drink of choice?

RuBo: Have you had a Turduckennog? That's turkey eggs, chicken eggs, and duck eggs, blended with cream, milk, and nutmeg and spiked with rum, bourbon, and brandy. Delicious!

GL: What gift are you hoping to get this holiday?

RuBo: Have you ever smoked tangerine zest? Kishu tangerines give you the most incredible high and the most vivid hallucinations. I am dying for a 25-pound box of Kishus and a monogrammed, gold-plated Microplane zester.

GL: Ruth, the holidays are a time for giving, even to those friends with special food needs. Could you give us your gift ideas for vegan friends?

RuBo: Do people still even have vegans as friends? I don't understand the point. But, if you must, I recommend building a Seitan Horse. Evoking the ancient Greeks' Trojan Horse, you construct a massive horse molded out of the wheat-based meat substitute seitan and then fill the center with real meat, preferably a blend of foie gras, pork belly, and tripe.

GL: How about that vegetarian you know on Atkins?

RuBo: This is a prescription for depression. I recommend a year's supply of Zoloft wrapped in vegan bacon.

GL: A follower of the Paleo Diet?

RuBo: The inverse of the Seitan Horse. Fashion a horse out of meat, which the Paleo will love (especially if you can find ground woolly mammoth), but fill the center with bread, pasta, and other starches that are a no-no for these crazies.

GL: What about those parents who make all their own baby food?

RuBo: A jar filled with a whole roasted chicken, which has been puréed—bones and all—into a smooth brown paste.

GL: The locavore?

RuBo: A gift basket filled with Italian extra virgin olive oil, Spanish saffron, Italian bottarga, French Camembert, and a box of tissues to drown his or her sorrows as the locavore is forced to regift these delicious foreign foodstuffs.

GL: The freegan in your family?

RuBo: I admire the mission of these garbage-eaters: calling attention to the incredible amount of food waste in the world by eating other people's trash. How about a special weekend away in Napa Valley at the Dumpster behind The French Laundry?

GL: That pickler or canner…

RuBo: Costco membership.

GL: Cheese fetishist?

RuBo: Époisses-scented aftershave.

GL: Brooklynite?

RuBo: This one's a no-brainer: a basket full of hairy crabs and bearded mussels.

GL: Portlandite?

RuBo: Book of McDonald's gift certificates, with a bird on it.

GL: That friend who takes photos of every single thing he eats?

RuBo: Empty out a bottle of camera lens cleaner and fill it with your choice of honey, molasses, or maple syrup. That should slow things down for a while.

GL: The handlebar-mustachioed mixologist?

RuBo: Artisanal razor blades.

GL: Finally, child foodies.

RuBo: Am I the only person who likes child foodies? With the exception of adolescent vegetarians (a.k.a. "Kale Bait"), whom I can't stand, I welcome pint-sized in bars and restaurants (so long as they are paying the bill). Give them a credit card and a membership on OpenTable.



Ruth Bourdain is the author of Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain's Guide to Gastronomy and a winner of a James Beard Award for humor. Follow her on Twitter @RuthBourdain.

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