01/26/2011 09:16 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Mark Bittman's Final Minimalist Column

TODAY marks the exit of The Minimalist from the pages of the Dining section, as a weekly column at least. There may be return appearances, but the unbroken string of more than 13 years and nearly 700 columns ends here. (I'm not leaving the Times family; more about that in a minute.)

Sooner or later, a weekly column starts to turn into a body of work. This one charts the history not only of my personal development in the kitchen, but of recent cooking trends. So indulge me while I toast The Minimalist with a Champagne cocktail -- developed with help from the bartender Jim Meehan, it is appropriately celebratory and bittersweet -- and a few reflections.

The Minimalist first appeared on Sept. 17, 1997. It was the brainchild of Rick Flaste, who created the Dining In/Dining Out section (now the Dining section); Trish Hall, my on-and-off editor; and me. It was conceived as a successor to Pierre Franey's classic 60-Minute Gourmet column, but with a less French, more modern, less chef-y sensibility. In addition, Rick wanted the recipes to be "smart," and although I couldn't quite figure out what that meant, I tried to please him.

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