Take the craggy face and crude humor of Anthony Bourdain, and add the luscious mane and lyrical prose of Ruth Reichl. Out comes a queerly twisted, pork-obsessed character of Twitterspheric proportions — Ruth Bourdain.
“End of summer morning. The humidity feels soul-destroying. Strolling by the river, fruit-fucked a ripe peach, juice dripping down my arms.” These are the typical 140-character sweet-nothings Ruth Bourdain creates when she (we’ll call her that for this story—the author is anonymous) mashes up her own perverted humor with Ruth Reichl’s languid Twitter musings.
Up until recently, Comfort Me With Offal (a riff on Reichl’s memoir Comfort Me With Apples) was the character’s pinboard for press, odd commentary and pokes at Paula Deen. Now it’s also the title of her Brillat-Savarin-style guide to gastronomy. A mashup of styles from classic food writers like M.F.K. Fisher and Michael Ruhlman mixed with the spirit of The Joy of Sex and/or Cooking, the odd manual is stuffed and cased with absurd memoir interludes: Ruth’s Rules (“DO shave your truffles, but DON’T manscape your peaches”) and dissections of foodie caricatures like the hipster butcher, curd nerds, etc.
With one Beard award under her belt, RuBo is only poised for a lifetime of gouty success, if, of course, the cover isn’t blown. Through a written exchange, the voice behind Ruth Bourdain gave us a peek into her crooked little rabbit hole. (We think she’d appreciate that pun.)
A Timeline of RuBo
The Ruth Bourdain character started on a whim in March 2010. I created the character, merging the legendary food world figures Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain into an entirely new gastromonstrosity. An audience quickly (and surprisingly) grew filled with people seemingly intrigued and also horrified by the avatar. In 2010, Ruth received the James Beard Foundation’s first award for humor.
Ruth Reichl does all the heavy lifting. It starts with her tweets, which are then twisted until barely recognizable through a lens that is scatological, sexual, grotesque and drug-addled. The resulting tweets are a combination of elements of Bourdain’s actual personality and tastes, along with the most extreme kind of food world bravado, plus food puns, and a dollop of pure gonzo.
I love you. I love you not.
Naturally, I’m a huge fan of Reichl and Bourdain. I also admire Thomas Keller, Mario Batali and Jacques Pepin. Like my Frankenstein creation, I don’t care much for Guy Fieri, though not to the extreme degree that he irks Ruth.
If I threw a dinner party I’d invite…
Eric Ripert, William the Conquerer, Nathan Myrhvold, Julia Child, David Chang and Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
I am Twitter
To paraphrase Louis XIV, “Le Twitter, c’est moi.” On the other hand, now that I have published a book, the Ruth Bourdain character is much more tangible and even exists without wireless Internet access. You can take Ruth Bourdain anywhere, even into the bathroom, which I strongly recommend. Comfort Me with Offal is the ultimate in gourmet bathroom reading.
Discretion on Identity
I think for the people reading Ruth Bourdain, the benefit of staying anonymous is that it allows your imagination to run wild. When it comes to Twitter, that means that this fictional character can almost coexist with real people, and that’s really valuable. I’ve also come in for some criticism, even if the overall response is positive, so I don’t know what a reveal would do for my own personal and business relationships. It’s a complete unknown.
Onto the next one
I think we’ll have to see how the book performs and take it from there. Food trucks, pop-up breastaurants, coffee table book of food erotica, a line of frozen meals, a movie, who knows?!
Read a previous Savoir Faire: John Besh Is A Business, Man, Not A Businessman