10 Questions for Laura Shapiro

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LS: I don’t believe in secret loves when it comes to food. The whole concept of “guilty pleasures” in food is damaging and wrongheaded, and I would like to see it permanently deleted from our food talk. I love many things in the supermarket ice cream case, especially ice cream sandwiches and what we used to call “chocolate-covereds,” the vanilla ice cream bars coated in chocolate. There’s nothing wrong with a Dove bar, but I really prefer the original, cheap version.

GL: Do you see any positive developments on the American food horizon?

LS: When I was at Newsweek, my office was stacked with cookbooks, and the younger employees and interns often asked me if there was a cookbook that was really basic, for somebody who knew nothing. These kids were right out of college, living in New York, going out all the time—and they were starting to get tired of it. They had a yen to cook. I think that yen is instinctive, but the circumstances of modern life, plus the relentless drumbeat of the food industry, have made cooking seem unnecessary, or just a frill. But cooking isn’t a frill, it’s a survival skill. The good part of the food-mad era in which we now live is that the hunger to cook is getting a chance to emerge and become part of everyday life.

Kemp Minifie was wrapped up in all aspects of food at Gourmet magazine for 32 years, and is now part of the Gourmet Live team as well as the food editor of the Gourmet Special Editions. For tried and tested cooking tips and tricks, check out her frequent columns on the Gourmet Live blog.

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