Apart from a brief mention on Ethicurean, I don't know if anybody else has blogged this bit of sad news. Last week, Sharon Tyler Herbst, author of The Food Lover's Companion, died.
You probably already know about this fantastically useful dictionary that teaches you hundreds and hundreds of things such as the names of all those crazy pasta shapes, or what a bain-marie is (but it doesn't tell you why it's called that, darn).
You may own a copy of the book yourself. And perhaps you know that it's available to browse online, free, via Epicurious.com.
Herbst and her husband wrote other food and wine books, too, but I don't want this to turn into one of those long obituary-type tributes. I just wanted to say how pained I was by the news of her passing, partly because she and I had chatted on the phone a few times five years ago, when she still lived in Marin County. I had something to do with assigning stories back then, and I had arranged for a freelancer to do a little profile on her, complete with a cute photo. She was cute. (The piece is not available online, sorry.)
I'm trying for a happy ending here, folks, really I am.
OK. So then yesterday I spotted a new dictionary about food terms. DairyQueen, at Ethicurean (she loves some tasty wordplay, yes she does), pointed me toward The Devil's Food Dictionary, an incipient site (seriously, I think he's still working on it) by one Barry Foy for some very funny, smirky, snarky definitions. (E.g.: "shad — past tense of shid." Or, "tuna — Excellent raw, cooked in any way, or canned, this sleek, majestic, powerful animal is so delicious that we have decided not to waste any of it on future generations.")
I am just kicking myself that he beat me to this project. Well, no. I'm just kicking myself that I didn't think of that title first. It's a perfect culinary spin on the old Ambrose Bierce book of wry definitions, The Devil's Dictionary, and Foy seems to be following in Bierce's literary footprints with cunning precision.
That cheers me up a bit.
Photo credit: sharontylerherbst.com