Sign of the Times

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Peggy Pierrepont


While New Orleans and the Louisiana coast waits for what damage the oil spill--as of today, the largest in US history--will do to its fish and seafood, neighboring states like Florida are advertising their clean beaches (though maybe not for long), and restaurants in Mississippi are gloating—like the one displaying this sandwich board, which my friend Peggy Pierrepont, ever alert to the signs of every sort in and around her adopted home of Natchez, sent to me the second she saw it, the other night.

Certainly, the anger and apprehension are real and well-placed—John Besh forcefully expressed his frustration here at the delay in a federal response, and the Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, declared the Gulf of Mexico an official disaster area.

Brett Anderson, the Times-Picayune restaurant critic and a friend visiting Boston, described last night the symbiotic relationship between the oil and fishing industries, without which Louisiana could hardly exist. The offer Besh described on the Atlantic Food Channel, of shrimpers and oystermen standing by ready to volunteer their shallow-water boats to help disperse the oil, goes deeper than good will or self-preservation, Anderson said: "All of them have relatives in oil. They need the industry to survive."

As they, and we, wait to see if this latest, oddly named effort by BP works, you can go to Natchez and order safe seafood—as, of course, you can now in New Orleans too.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
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