How this food writer returned to fiction, and the importance of teachers and coincidences

I’m sitting alone at Manny’s, East 92nd and Second Avenue, on Sunday with a glass of Lagunitas IPA watching the Browns lose in their quintessential way, that is with a kind mediocrity that causes people to leave mid-game. I feel gentle fingers on my shoulder and hear “Are you Michael Ruhlman?”

This isn’t unusual — pretty much everyone in the New York City bar is from my hometown of Cleveland, where my work is well-known. I turn and see the face of a 66-year-old woman, thin, with straight dark hair. She’s immediately familiar, but it takes three beats for me…

More Than Just Cooking

Last February, I published a book called How To Braise, a short book exploring this most transformative of our cooking methods. People often ask me what my favorite thing to cook is and almost always my response is “I like to braise.” Unless it’s summer time, when I like to grill, which has it’s own unique pleasures.

Why braise? Because it most fully defines cooking: it transforms food. When I grill a steak, or pan-fry a pork chop, all I’m really doing is heating the food. It is what it began as, only it’s hotter. Steak is ultimately a heat-and-serve…

You may think you have five, but the sixth is most important

Here’s a silly sounding but really valuable cooking tip: When you’re roasting nuts in the oven, keep one nut out on your cutting board, and you’ll never burn them; while you’re doing all your other work, you will continually want to wipe that nut off your board, only to remember why it’s there. That’s one way your valuable sense of sight helps you out; if you smell your roasting nuts, it’s probably because they’ve gone too far.

We cook with our senses, and we have six of them, all of them critical, the sixth most…

Michael Ruhlman

Writer and author of 20+ books of non-fiction, memoir, fiction and many cookbooks.

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