-- Ruth Bourdain: acerbic, androgynous, foul-mouthed, totally fictitious and now...? James Beard Foundation winner.
On Friday, the so-called Oscars of the food world honored Ruth Bourdain – the made-up online mash-up of culinary icons Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain – with its first ever award for humor writing.
In some ways the award was a nod not just to the still anonymous man or woman behind the profanely funny spoof of wise-cracking Bourdain and former Gourmet magazine editor-in-chief Reichl. It also recognized the rising power of social media in food. Ruth Bourdain became a sensation during the past year almost exclusively by posting biting 140-character messages (most of them unfit to reprint) on Twitter.
"Leaden sky. Cold rain. Curled by the fire with a bowl of beans and a stack of corn tortillas. One fart and I could burn the whole house down," reads one early April tweet from Ruth Bourdain. He (or she?) did not come forward to accept the award during Friday's ceremony in New York City.
The ceremony honored the top culinary media talent for 2011, including cookbooks and broadcast and print journalism. Awards for chefs and restaurants were to be announced Monday.
Cookbook of the year went to Diana Kennedy's ode to the cooking of Mexico's Oaxaca region, "Oaxaca al Gusto." To write the book, Kennedy – known as the Julia Child of Mexican food – collected hundreds of recipes from home cooks from throughout the richly diverse region.
Food scientist Harold McGee's exhaustively informative "On Food and Cooking" was named to the organization's Cookbook Hall of Fame. The American cooking category was won by James Villas' "Pig: King of the Southern Table," while the general cooking award went to Amanda Hesser's "The Essential New York Times Cookbook."
Danish chef Rene Redzepi won two awards for his almost hauntingly beautiful cookbook, "Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine." It was honored in the professional cooking and photography categories.
On television, Bravo's "Top Chef" won for best studio program, while Eric Ripert's public television show "Avec Eric" won for on-location program.